As Non-executive Chair, I have overall responsibility for implementing corporate governance within Mercia Asset Management PLC (“Mercia”, the “Company” or the “Group”). Working with the Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary, I am responsible for our corporate governance standards. The Board is collectively responsible for setting the tone and culture of the Company and promoting good corporate governance.
Mercia has been a member of the QCA since 2015 to further its understanding of, and adherence to, good corporate governance practice. It formally adopted the QCA Corporate Governance Code (the “QCA Code”) on 21 September 2018, following the introduction in March 2018 of the London Stock Exchange’s new requirement for companies admitted to trading on AIM to adopt and comply with a recognised corporate governance code by 28 September 2018.
The QCA Code sets out 10 corporate governance principles and requires the Group to publish certain related disclosures; these appear in this section of the Annual Report and on our website. This information is reviewed annually and the date of each review is noted on our website.
Our primary means of communicating our corporate governance structure is through our Annual Report and our website disclosures. When, on occasion, specific questions are raised by private individual shareholders and/or institutional investors on such matters, we engage directly with those shareholders, generally through either the Chief Executive Officer or the Chief Financial Officer. I also meet from time to time with our leading institutional investors to maintain an open dialogue in respect of progress against Mercia’s strategic objectives and any other matters which our shareholders wish to raise. I set out below how the Board is led, matters specifically reserved for it, our risk framework and governance structures. Mercia’s Directors, both Executive and Non-executive, believe in robust corporate governance and we concur with the principles of the QCA Code, in that it is key to the long-term success of the Company – by helping, inter alia, to improve performance and mitigate risk.
We communicate our corporate culture through regular staff communications, an induction programme for all new joiners and, most importantly, through the way in which the Executive Directors conduct themselves. We promote openness and respectfulness in all our dealings. Our relatively flat management structure and internal communication channels enable us to monitor that ethical values are being respected and that the state of our corporate culture remains strong – both from an internal and external perspective. Our purpose and core values are communicated regularly to all staff and form part of our performance management framework. Furthermore, all employees are encouraged to contribute to our decision-making processes and are provided with information on the financial and economic factors affecting the Group’s performance through regular team meetings, updates from the Chief Executive Officer and via our open and inclusive culture. Mercia’s people and talent management encompasses recruitment, retention, communication, training and performance management; all important areas of focus where our staff are our most important asset. Mercia actively encourages open dialogue between all staff and we hold regular gatherings, both formal and informal, to elicit feedback and gauge how our values are being maintained throughout the business.
From an external perspective, Mercia seeks to operate as a socially responsible employer and has adopted standards and policies which promote corporate values designed to help and guide employees in their conduct and business relationships. The Group seeks to comply with all laws, regulations and rules applicable to its business and to conduct that business in line with applicable established best practice. The Group takes a zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption and has enacted procedures to prevent bribery. All employees within Mercia who are involved with the regulated business of managing investment transactions receive compliance and anti-money laundering training, with periodic refresher updates.
The Directors recognise the importance of sound corporate governance. We remain committed to delivering the long-term success of the Group through an effective framework of leadership, management and controls. Under the direction of Jill Williams, Investment Director and Head of ESG, our ESG policy has continued to sit at the heart of our Group operations. In all its activities, the Group aims to be commercial and fair, to display integrity and professionalism and to have due regard for the interests of all its investors, employees, suppliers, local communities and the businesses in which the Group invests.
Ian R. Metcalfe OBE
Non-executive Chair – August 2022