Gavin Stewart, founder of brand affinity marketing agency Touchdown, would like to become a non exec one day. Having spent the past 13 years building a successful business that now turns over nearly £2m a year, he believes he has a lot to offer small, growing businesses. But not all non execs are as honourable as Stewart.
"If you think that the MPs’ expenses thing was a scandal, you should look at non execs," he says. "For some, it’s just a straight exchange: they take a fee to give credibility to a board of directors."
"Take someone like Fred Goodwin. Six months ago he could have traded in his corporate background for a cushy position on someone’s board," Stewart continues. "I couldn’t do that if I wanted to. I’d have to work."
According to the Higgs Report, which was commissioned by the government in 2003, non executives have a number of responsibilities:
1.) "Non-executive directors should constructively challenge and contribute to the development of strategy."2.) "Non-executive directors should scrutinise the performance of management in meeting agreed goals and objectives."
3.) "Non-executive directors should satisfy themselves that financial information is accurate and that financial controls and systems of risk management are robust and defensible."
4.) "Non-executive directors are responsible for determining appropriate levels of remuneration of executive directors and have a prime role in appointing, and where necessary removing, senior management."
But where is the regulation to ensure that this happens?As the expenses row explodes anew with the BBC’s refusal to declare the expenses of its top execs, financial transparency looks to be the hot topic for the foreseeable future. First MPs’ expenses, then the BBC. Next up, non execs? Let’s see, shall we?
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