We would like to send our heartiest congratulations to partner and Stakeholder the Jamaica Stock Market (JSE) for earning the rating of number one performing index in 2015 worldwide topping 92 markets tracked by the global financial research company. The Stock Exchange has been a big supporter of the Institute on several initiatives, and we look forward to working with them in the future. Our first initiative for 2016 with the JSE was presenting on the topic of Integrated Reporting at their annual conference entitled “Reaching Beyond Traditional Boundaries - Exploring & Partnering for Growth for All” on January 20th, 2016.
We were able to interview Marlene Street- Forrest the General Manager at the JSE to find out about how the stock exchange views Governance and what she believes is the future for the JSE.
1. How have governance practices been important in your organization's operations?
There are two points of governance for the Jamaica Stock Exchange. (a) The JSE is a regulator of companies listed on the Exchange and member /dealers (brokers). We seek to ensure that these organizations comply where applicable with the regulations contained in the JSE’s rules and the Securities Act. We are regulated by the Financial Services Commission and as a listed Company also by the Rules of our Exchange.
The JSE ensures that we are compliant with our regulators and that as far as possible those we regulate are compliant as the heartbeat of any market is the confidence that the participants have in us.
You may be aware that in order to improve our own governance arrangements, our organization became demutualized in 2008 at which point our regulatory and commercial activities were separated. This ensured that even the perception that the process of regulatory decision was contaminated by self-interest would be minimized or removed completely. Today we can say with confidence that our regulatory process is robust and as was recognized by Bloomberg in their article last year on our achievement on being the World’s Best Performing Stock Exchange in 2015.
2. What would you tell your members about the role of governance in their organizations?
Our members know and appreciate the role of good governance in their organizations. They have experienced the upside of good governance in the improvement in operational efficiencies which have had an impact on these companies’ growth and profitability, public perception and their ability to conduct business globally. Many of our Junior market companies have commented on the fact that initially that all the requirements seem to be somewhat of an arduous task but once started they have reaped significant benefits from doing so. As empirical data has shown that good corporate governance usually improves a company’s share value, companies are encouraged to be particularly diligent in ensuring timely and accurate disclosure of financial reports and material information and that the structure of their boards should be such that allows for equitable treatment of shareholders, transparency and in short good governance.
3. For 2016, what are you hoping to see as a key milestone or achievement for the stock exchange?
Given that the JSE recognizes the importance of good corporate governance, it will be launching by the end of the first half of the year, the JSE Corporate Governance Index. The JSE also continues to review its own rules to ensure that new practices and principles which encourage better governance are incorporated into our requirements as we encourage those we regulate to travel with us on this journey. For the Stock Exchange Group itself we are determined also to ensure that our stakeholders, internal and external customers have the best information possible to assist them in bringing about improvements in their organizations.