Report to BDTI Donors, and 2015 Fund-Raising Drive: Building on Japan’s New Corporate Governance Code!

Here is the update that I have recently sent to Sustaining Donors (definition) of The Board Director Training Institute of Japan (BDTI). We made a lot of progress last year.I am reproducing it below because our other sponsors, donors and supporters – not to mention the general public – also deserve an update.

If you like what BDTI is doing to make Japanese boards more effective, please support us!- by making a donation, offering your help (part-time) or conference space, or becoming a participating member so as to send staff and receive 40% discounts on standard programs.There are a number of alternatives for donating. Note that is also possible to make a donation by credit card, or to make a donation that will be tax-deductible in the U.S.

Next year, one of our goals will be to add Japanese institutional investors to our donor list. At present, despite the creation of the Stewardship Code, not a single Japanese institutional investor has become a Sustaining Donor – even though supporting BDTI is the most cost-effective stewardship (quasi-engagement)an institution can do. In one simple move, by adding its name to the list at the right, an institution can send a benign and unthreatening message to the entire market about the importance of director training.

「善は急げ!」 (“For good deeds, strike while the iron is hot!”)

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Attachments: (1) Japanese Corporate Governance at the Tipping Point (presentation)
(2) Article: Corporate Governance Reform in Japan (p.50)

Dear Sustaining Donors,

Last year BDTI made substantial progress towards fulfilling its mission to create more effective boards in Japan. The base is now set for us to execute our plans.

Here are a few highlights about the progress we made inFY 2014:

During FY 2014, BDTI trained 229 persons at various directorship training courses, about half of which were open to the public and half of were customized for specific companies, many of them well-known names. Historically, BDTI has now trained 543 persons since offering its first director training program in December, 2011. During FY2014, we also trained 416 persons at various drill-down seminars on topics ranging from engagement and the CG Code, to board oversight of M&A and cyber-security, and other subjects. We reached 929 persons at speaking events, provided our e-Learning package to 167 persons (not counting the directorship training programs), wrote numerous articles in both Japanese and English, and appeared in other media coverage (interviews, etc.).

As an individual advocate, I succeeded in convincing Japan’s ruling party to promulgate a Corporate Governance Code under the auspices of the FSA and the TSE, and then advised key officials in the FSA on much on much of the content of the Code. As a result the new CG Code contains provisions about multiple independent directors, explanation of nomination procedures and candidate choices, director training, board evaluation, engagement with shareholders, and a host of other topics that were not even being considered 15 months ago. Suddenly, “corporate governance” has become the central pillar of national growth policy, and together with “ROE”, the buzz word of the times.

Most of Japan’s companies and managers seem to be responding constructively to the Code, and BDTI will be giving a number of (mainly free) study sessions to groups of executives on the nuts and bolts of implementing the Code’s provisions to a high standard. Similarly, next week will be giving a large seminar on ROE/ROIC and methods for boosting corporate profitability. We expect to be extremely busy giving training about these two topics during FY2015, in addition to our regular offerings, training for specific companies, and consulting about governance practices.
BDTI’s web site now receives 6,000 unique visitors per month. People are starting to come to us, rather than BDTI having to struggle to reach them.

Because Japan has now reached a “tipping point” where the concept of “best practice” has finally arrived, BDTI can now improve the market faster than before. But we need your support. Most Japanese companies are not yet accustomed to providing governance training to directors (or to director candidates before you vote for them), and have never evaluated their own board’s effectiveness. These are very new concepts here, and much learning needs to occur on both sides of the investment line. Unless BDTI provides quality programs and consulting services that set the bar higher, at a cost that managers can get internal approval for, this learning will simply not take place as fast as Japan’s market deserves.

Please support BDTI’s mission, while sending an unthreatening message to Japanese companies that their owners think director training is important. Now is the time when we all can have the most impact. Or as they say in Japanese, 「善は急げ!」(“For good deeds, strike while the iron is hot!”)

Regards,
Nicholas Benes
Representative Director, The Board Director Training Institute of Japan

Notes: Sustaining Donors are those sponsors who have donated more than 300,000 per year on average since they first donated to BDTI. We greatly appreciate their continuing, recurring support, which helps BDTI plan its budgets each year and meet expenses in a predictable manner. Their names appear prominently on various pages of BDTI’s web site if they wish.

継続的寄付者」とは、BDTIへの寄付開始以降、継続的に年平均30万円以上の寄付をしてくださっている方々です。私共が一歩先を見据えながら様々な活動を企画実施できるのも皆様の継続的かつ多大なご支援の賜物と厚く御礼申し上げます

It is also possible to make a donation by credit card, or to make a donation that will be tax-deductible in the U.S. Please see here for an explanation of the various alternatives: http://bdti.or.jp/english/donate .

The Board Director Training Institute (BDTI) is a "public interest" nonprofit in Japan dedicated to training about directorship, corporate governance, and related management techniques. It is certified by the Japanese government to conduct these activities as a regulated nonprofit. Read a summary about BDTI here, and see a menu of its services for both corporations and investors here.

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