Singapore Exchange CEO Hsieh Fu Hua in a speech at the annual Invest Fair on last Saturday proposed the following regulatory changes:-
- Companies with foreign operations audited by an overseas accounting firm may need a joint sign-off by a local auditor;
- New listings may need to hire governance advisers for two years after their initial public offering (IPOs).
The costs of listing and costs of maintaining a listing status in Singapore for an entity with foreign operations have just gone up.
The devil will be in executing the above changes.
Some issues of the top of my head would be:-
- Local auditor signing off would also be in a position to decide which foreign auditor to appoint?
- Will this eventually lead to local auditor taking over the audit of foreign operations as well?
- What is the level of responsibility of local auditor signing off?
- What are the responsibilities of governance advisers? Is he or she a board level personnel? Can a staff hired to do internal control duties be designated a governance adviser?
- Actually who is a qualified governance adviser? Lawyers or accountants?
I would like to hear SGX proposing some control and maintenance measures to be done by them. I really hope SGX is not attempting to propose measures that would eventually “outsource” their control function to local auditors and governance advisers at the expense of the listed entities.