February 12, 2014 at 7:27 pm
I wanted to know whether i can choose company which is listed in newyork stcok exchange and follows Sarbanes Oxley act not uk combined code?July 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm
@trephena or Ann or anyone
With trephena recommendation I have decided to undertake corporate gorvernance (topic 17)
I trust my knowledge in this field but however you talked of comparator company and am now confused. Is it about comparing companies
And secondly if am to use purely secondary information can I use information from the internet and which multinational or big company has information that can easily be used from the internet
Thanks and any further guidance like what it might take me to get a good grade and what I can do ,
I shall be really greatful
AlfredJuly 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm
@alfred For Topic 17 to do a good RAP you need to choose a company that has a high media profile for CG. Either because they are commended for having high standards of CG or reproved for having a poor CG record. This is because you will then have plenty of material to work with and you should be able to do a good evaluation.
You will first need to compare the company CG performance with its relevant country’s code on CG (e.g. for a British company you would use the CIty Code – by the way have you passed or studied P1 yet as you really do need some background knowledge to CG to do Topic 17? If you haven’t then as long as you can get your hands on the study text and read it first that will be OK). This comparison would encompass looking at the composition of the board (in terms of NEDs and executive directors, gender) role of CEO and chairman, attendance record of directors at meetings, appointment of directors etc You would need to go through the City Code item by item and make comparisons of what the Code says and how the company measures up on all relevant items (from the information in the annual report).
You look at the role of the various board committees (risk assessment committee, nomination committee etc) and their composition, qualifications and experience of the directors, their Bonuses and remuneration and then you compare these with a major rival company to see whether your company is faring better or worse than its competitor (this is sort of benchmarking it) on these and some of the City Code items.
The normal model is Mendelow’s Matrix (but there are some others) and this is useful as it makes you focus on stakeholders (the second part of the topic title) you look at aspects of CG that affect the key stakeholder (usually shareholders, employees and suppliers). The sorts of things you bring in are those that affect the particular group – shareholders – frequency of shareholder meetings, how long after year end the company publishes their results, and share price, EPS. For employees it is al about employment relations – whistle-blowing policies, employee share schemes. Suppliers – factors that relate to its relationships with suppliers (some companies are accused of exploiting their suppliers by introducing exclusivity agreements, poor payment terms etc). Again you compare these with the rival company.
To get a good grade you need to do this thorough comparison and use some independent sources. A lot of your information comes from the annual reports but using external sources e.g. articles from the financial press and business journals, internet articles will improve the quality of your report and help you produce a balanced report. That is one that explores whether the company does have good CG by not just accepting what the company tells you but evaluating and questioning it, using supporting evidence so that you can then summarise what it does well in CG and what it could improve, Wherever possible the information should be presented by means of graphs and charts (e.g. pie charts for composition of the board, graph for share price etc) as they break up the text and provide interest.
The other major section is ethics – where you would show any instances from your research that showed whether the company had been operating ethically not just towards its stakeholders but generally as a corporate body (no comparisons may be applicable here).
Obviously there are other things that can be brought in – a lot of the things depend on which company you choose.July 21, 2014 at 6:09 am
Am in Uganda (East Africa) and like I said I nolonger have a chance to internal information ,a ctually the reason I took up your suggestion of topic 17 without second thought
I am really wondering if it’s possible to do this topic with out interacting at all with an internal person in the company, i.e I use internet (website), magazines , articles
but still I wonder how I would get those board structures (are there companies that you recommend that publicise their structures say on websites
You talk of employees ,shareholders ,suppliers do I really need to talk to these guys
And lastly am in Uganda like I said and we dont have any developed code here and basically a few companies which follow some are multinationals following their home codes
Can I use a UK company that has no base in Uganda and I rely only on their website and other internet indepedent reports
Otherwise oh yes I did my P1 in June and am waiting for results on 8th August
I thank you so much and hopefu;;y after this response I should be able to start on my RAP though I kind feel iam getting late considering I have to do an exam in December
AlfredJuly 21, 2014 at 8:58 am
@alfred I understand your apprehension as the list I put together sounds very daunting! Great that you have done P1 so recently as if you have access to a study text or relevant material, I hope it will pinpoint most of the relevant bits of the CIty Code for you so that should take some of the hard work out of it for you (and also explain Mendelow and other possible models) 😀 .
You may certainly use a UK company. Choose a plc as by law (the Companies Act) they have to put most of the information I have mentioned in their annual report either directly or indirectly. For example they normally have background details of their directors, their remuneration packages (as shareholders normally have to agree these) and pictures of them (so you can see if they have any women directors or not), the audit report shows the date the auditors sign off the accounts (so you can take the following day as the day they published it) etc. So you need to download a few annual reports to see what is in them before you take fright!
I don’t normally like recommending a particular company as I always feel that a student should choose one that interests and appeals to them, however to see for myself what sort of information is easily accessible I have just done an online search for Mark and Spencer with the link:
This link helpfully provides further links to the full annual report and there is even a specific quick link to the Governance section and Remuneration Reports so for this company it is easy to find most of the information that you will need. (Comparators for M & S would be Debenhams, House of Fraser or Next plc).
If I were doing Topic 17 myself I would chose one of the banks as they have in the past few years been seriously falling down on governance issues (and I would enjoy the challenge as a forensic accountant of delving into the ‘darker side’ of their operations! 🙂 This is what I mean by choosing a company that interests you – I would find M & S OK but Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds etc personally very exciting as I know some of the banks, in spite of trying to appear ‘shiny’ in their annual reports, have indulged in ‘dark deeds’ in the last 5 years or so, that in some cases is only just coming to light)
However you must also use other sources to balance up your report – such as the financial press and reuters or the BBC – here are links to the Daily Telegraph & BBC news finance pages: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/
You use the company information to compare governance facts (to the Code and with the comparator) and external sources to research more objective things to form an opinion on whether the board is acting ethically and to discover what shareholders and employees and suppliers think of the company. This part is obviously more difficult but you will need to search the external sources for relevant articles and information that may give you ideas and lead you to aspects of this.
You certainly have time to produce a good quality report for the Period 29 submission in November depending on exactly what your other commitments are. I normally think 3 months is about right for a good RAP that should more than adequately meet the assessment criteria if the student puts in the effort and appreciates and understands all of the rules and requirements.
Please read our forums on Referencing as Referencing is an area of frequent failure for the RAP and if you are aware of the rules you should learn to incorporate the principles of it in your work from the beginning. Somewhere students have posted details on the forums of how Microsoft Word will construct a reference list for you, which takes out a lot of the hard, boring work normally involved in this. Don’t just read the OBU Info pack once, ensure that you refer to it regularly and think about the SLS at the beginning NOT the end as it makes it much easier to produce a good SLS if you think about it and start planning it early. 😀July 21, 2014 at 9:59 am
Now this is truly helpful
I may go with the suggestion of M & S as I have long admired the company so a chance to find more about their dirty bit and their strength
But let me think about it (tomorrow 22 july ) I will be with a topic
Really if i make it the project shall truly be dedicated to open tuition and you @trephena
My other engagement is that I have to do my final 3 ACCA papers as I really want to finish my papers at the same time with the research
AlfredJuly 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm
@alfred – M & S may be acting ethically – there may however be a question as to whether they treat their suppliers fairly….
However just today (after my post to you ) the UK Serious Fraud Office has announced that it is conducting an investigation into banks fixing exchange rates – and that comes on top of fixing LIBOR and lots of money laundering and assisting with tax evasion cases….. yes they are shady bunch the bankers, I am sorry to say!July 23, 2014 at 6:47 am
@trephena- I understands your frustration with banks, they are evils we have to live with
Iam weighing in on M&S and I were thinking of something like
<An assesment of the quality of the corprate governance within M&S and the impact on M&S’ customers>
When am choosing a comparator company do I only look at a company doing better in corporate governance and I sort of bench mark
or alternatively can I compare with generally its competitors and which CG codes can I use for the project and any links to these codes
Othewise am now here really cracking to come up with research objectives and questions
AlfredJuly 23, 2014 at 7:21 am
@alfred just a couple of important things to clarify here – you MUST stick with OBU Topic 17 title – by all means thoroughly research the customer relations angle but you must NOT ignore other key stakeholders.
Any UK rival company would be a suitable comparator – you always use the latest Code available for the country in which the company operates. You are principally benchmarking M & S against both of these – Code and comparator..
Other contributors have written posts on aims & objectives so use the search facility to find them.July 24, 2014 at 8:38 am
I hope this is not against forum guidelines, if so I stand to be warned
I have gone through the objective writing discussion and i really found it helpful-as objectives and questions are the all important pacesetter of the project I would wish to have an expert view on my objectives whether they will get me going on the right track. am doing this coz my mentor wont have a second thought on them as am just using him due to his suitabilty to mentor but otherwise he has no time for this, I have to push him
Otherwise am all on my own and you can imagine how this forum is massive to me
To cut it short these are my obectives and questions\
1.To analyse the quality of corporate governance within MS
2.To establish what corporate governance guidelines and codes within MS
3 To analyse MS’ compliance to the codes in place
4. To establish the impact of corporate governance on MS key stakeholders
5.To improve my ability to criticise and asses a company’s performance in a particular area
6.To draw a reasonable conclusion and recommend some suggestions on the basis of overall learning from this project
1.What are the corporate governance codes adopted by MS
2.Who are the key stakeholders of MS
3.How is corporate governance with in MS compared with other players
4.To what extent has MS complied to corporate governance codes adopted
5.What are the major high points and corporate governance shortcomings within MS
6.What does quality/good corporate governance entail
7.What structures are in place to ensure quality corporate governance with in MS
8.How does MS evaluate its performance in corporate gorvernance both from an internal and independent view
Secondly when am writing part one of the report do I really have to reference points I incorporate say like from this forum
AlfredJuly 26, 2014 at 8:32 pm
@alfred That all looks good. Perhaps though you could include an objective that states something about comparing aspects of M & S’ s CG practices with its comparator (which you name) and then include it as one of your research questions along the lines of ‘does M & S demonstrate better standards of CG than the named comparator?’ And in the Conclusion section you form an opinion on this.July 27, 2014 at 3:53 am
@trephena Thanks you so much,. how were the parties / weddings ? Did you bring for us on the platform a cake.? I will cut it myself..
Otherwise am down on business need to draft something but everytime I look at this blank word document its as if am getting nowhere hahaha
I will frequent this platform for guidance , and if it was acceptable I would from time to time send you my draft to see whether am on track. only if its acceptable
AlfredJuly 28, 2014 at 6:54 pm
@alfred It’s always a bit daunting when starting the RAP but with microsoft Word you can always change things so don’t worry. As you get things down in words it all starts to become easier. Most of what you wrote above + the inclusion of the aim in connection with the comparator can be incorporated in your report.
Read page 43 and page 30 of the new Information pack – 2014-2015 for guidance
I also suggest you look at our forum on difference between objectives and research questions
(if you haven’t already read it – 3 mentors give you some ideas)
Happy to advise on points raised on the forum 🙂 (However as I am the Forum moderator and not mentoring it would be a conflict of interest and compromise my impartiality so I cannot review individual students’ draft reports)
Yeah wedding went well thanks and I was nominated as ‘honorary bridesmaid’ on account of my dress. It was a bit of a hot day – by UK standards that is, 27 C, – but probably not even warm by yours – but one thing we have plenty of being an island, is sea and coastline and as this wedding was by the sea, the setting was beautiful!! 😀August 1, 2014 at 7:14 pm
Congratulations on your honorary bridesmaid. You must have a fine taste of fashion. 27C in Uganda is not hot really. It can really be hot. I will try to find out the Celcius we are hitting nowdays
I had chosen Debenham as my comparator company but their site with governance details is inaccessible. they say its forbidden
any useful links, Thanks and its 9.30pm here now and Iam going to sleep., goodnight. I will look forward to your response in the morning
AlfredAugust 1, 2014 at 9:48 pm
Here are some links but some of them relate to earlier years:
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=196805&p=irol-govHighlights with links to pdf files forth audit, remuneration and nomination committees
Take a look at how they present some of the information graphically and with charts as you should aim to do something similar. It makes your report more interesting if you have graphs and charts rather than just text.August 2, 2014 at 4:01 am
Thank you so much for the links
Am truly indebted
Have a nice saturday and to everyone on the OT platform though it seems for topic 17 its all me alone
AlfredAugust 9, 2014 at 7:45 am
I have been a bit busy writing. My word count is around 3000 now.
However a few things worrying me.
If am referencing from let say the UK corporate governance code in text , do I put the whole name of the author e.g (Financial Reporting Council, 2012) or I can as well say (FRC, 2012)
In addition can I refer Marks and Spencer as M&S in my report. Its looking ridiculous writing marks and spencer now and again.
on the same line , can I refer the UK corporate governance code as The code to simplify over writing a long name.
2. When referencing books got in soft copy online as PDFs do I cite them normally as I would cite from a hard copy version or I cite the website I got it from?
this applies to journals and others which I obtain in pdf but they are soft copy
3.Debenham is an FTSE 250 and it is my comparator company, but I have just found out its FTSE 250. wont an FTSE 100 be a better and more suitable comparator than Debenham , say Next plc. can I change besides am struggling to bring in the comparator component in my evaluation.
Thank you and I passed all my papers for June 2014
AlfredAugust 9, 2014 at 9:59 am
@alfred Glad to here that your Topic 17 RAP is progressing well and many congratulations on your exam success 😀
1. Perfectly acceptable to use FRC and M&S when referencing but ensure that you use the same designations as the ‘identifier’ in the reference list e.g. in the list put FRC (2014) – Financial Reporting Council, the title of the document and all the other details etc. If you are using DIFFERENT documents from the same source in the same year you must use appendages in the text and list to distinguish the documents e.g. M&S (2013a); M&S (2013b). The idea is the reader should be able to find things quickly on the list and be directed to the exact source. Fine to write ‘The Code’ but the first time you use it give it the full title and then in brackets (The Code) and thereafter The Code can be used.
2. My preference for this is to use the conventional Harvard details in the list but add “also available online’ and then put the web address – that way the reader/marker can access it (if they want to!!!)
3. I don’ think the FTSE 100 or 250 factor is critical. Go for what has the most relevant information as will make your life easier 🙂 . Remember with Topic 17 a comparator is not mandatory (or at least it is not stated as compulsory in the Info Pack). I recommend it because it helps to show whether the main company is doing well or poorly in CG compared with other companies in its sector. In fact rather than one company you could bring in either Debenhams or Next at various times if relevant e.g. one is particularly good at a certain element – say Debenhams when it comes to gender of directors (as I think they had 3 women on their Board) – but just make sure you keep a clear focus on M&S. You are not doing a comparison of Next/Debenhams/M&S in relation to CG you are doing “An assessment of the quality of the corporate governance within M & S and the impact on M & S’s key stakeholders” and these comparators are to help you with that assessment.
Don’t worry about word count at this stage. When you have finished you will probably want to edit Parts 1 & 2. (In relation to an earlier comment: although this forum looks like a dialogue between you and me, it has had lots of views so other students are no doubt picking up hints and being encouraged to tackle Topic 17) 🙂August 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm
should I do a survey (with relevant parties) in the field and conduct the face to face interviewing with the management of the company I choose? I think this would add value to the research.
Also, have some confusion about the requirement for the business report and the normal academic paper, could you please help to differentiate them?August 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm
@thusang Although doing a survey and interview sounds good in theory, you need to look at the practicalities of doing any primary data collection. Have you done a statistics course? Do you understand sampling techniques? If the answer to this is yes then continue reading, if it is ‘no’ then stop there and abandon the idea!
The next consideration, assuming that you do understand the principles that lie behind good research and primary data collection is how are you going to achieve this? Realistically it is unlikely (unless you have any strings that you can pull) that the management will respond to you (my guess is that an email / letter will either be ignored / trashed or you will get a very watered-down response –probably just referring you back to the annual report for example). Who would you question anyway – the Board? They are hardly going to tell you any of the areas that are weak in CG as it would be admittance of failing! As for other stakeholders: the average employee, customer and general public probably don’t even understand what CG is and how would they know if they company is performing adequately on this front anyway? What could they and suppliers base their opinions on? So any research results via a questionnaire would be very subjective or if you did manage to get the company to answer any questions for you, are likely to be biased. I would never recommend a student do primary data collection as their main research tool for Topics 17 & 20 unless they are well versed in statistical techniques and methods. Doing a comparison with other companies in the same sector and against the Code for T17 at least gives some reliable benchmarking – you are comparing facts with facts and it is a far more objective way than asking someone with limited knowledge what they may think.
As I have already alluded to: primary data collection unless it is pure observation or a straight interview is something that students should only consider if they have a good understanding of the principles that lie behind conducting surveys and sampling techniques and this normally means that they need to have done a good statistics course. Although it may be possible / necessary to do primary data collection for other topics it still comes down to conducting the research in a professional way. The most important aspects of this are framing the questions so that they are clear and unambiguous and to ensure that respondents actually understand what is being asked (far harder in practice than it sounds) and selecting the appropriate sampling frame.
Sorry if this is not what you want to hear –but don’t shoot the messenger. I am only trying to help you avoid the frustration of not getting any clear results and wasting time doing the wrong approach – one that would most likely lead to a fail for Application of Models (a poor survey) and fail for Evaluation & Analysis (the results are not reliable and invalid and therefore the findings based on them prove absolutely nothing). The sad fact is that unfortunately most students do not possess adequate appreciation and skills of how to do primary research and therefore the results are usually unreliable and invalid. (95% of the surveys that students conduct are at best poor and at worst fabricated and the teaching staff at universities are not dumb when it comes to the latter and can spot a phoney survey a mile-off!! )
If you do have the right background in statistics then go ahead as you should be able to avoid the pitfalls set out above by doing robust research and so achieving the assessment criteria won’t be a problem. It may then add some value to your work but it would still need to be supplemented by doing some comparator analysis or similar benchmarking to increase the objectivity of the results.
A business report is less formal than an academic paper. The latter has to be written in the 3rd person and will mainly be written in the passive voice. It also has a stricter layout and it will normally contain a very thorough literature review of related research.
A business report is not so prescribed but you should see the latest Information Pack on what sections need to be included in the RAP. In UK universities the terms ‘dissertation’ and ‘thesis’ have particular meanings and the RAP is not of the same academic standard as these (although many overseas students seem to apply these terms indiscriminately and mistakenly to the Research and Analysis report)August 11, 2014 at 2:06 pm
@trephena I failed topic 15 first time and I now want to do a fresh topic. With all the information you have provided on topic 17, I’m considering doing that.
I already passed the 4 questions on sls although I failed the presentation.
If I change to topic 17 will I have to answer the 4 sls questions which I already passed?August 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm
@unyimeedem Provided you select an appropriate company and you have studied P1, I think you will probably find Topic 17 is easier than Topic 15 in terms of evaluation (it can be difficult with T15 to achieve a good grade unless you have access to a lot of reliable and relevant information).
According to the Resubmission Rules it states:
“If you fail the Research Report but you pass the Skills and Learning
Statement, then you need only submit the revised Research Report and not
the Skills and Learning Statement”. However it doesn’t sat anything about if you change topic and company.
So it looks as if you won’t have to do the SLSL again but you will obviously have to do the Presentation. However I confess that admin matters are not my forte (as I am more concerned with RAP academic content, evaluation and the assessment criteria). So perhaps someone else like @anna – OBU mentor or @bassaniobroke can confirm this?
By the way although if you change your topic you don’t have to submit a Resubmission statement, I think it would still be a good exercise as it may help you if you looked at your marker feedback and reflected on what went wrong, as this will focus you on what to avoid second time around. (Please see my article on our home page called ‘The Resubmission Statement – how a good one can be your key to success on resubmission ). However it will be entirely up to you if you actually want to write and upload such a statement with your work on resubmission 🙂August 25, 2014 at 2:44 pm
Longtime!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. How is the UK. Now am over 8000 words now, that is the MS word count.
Do I use this count or there is another way of counting words I have to do.
AlfredAugust 28, 2014 at 5:47 pm
@alfred Hi there!
Maybe it would be a good idea at this point to go back to the earlier sections and trim a lot of the unnecessary material? You do not need to give a lot of the background to M & S for example. The clever part of the RAP is the findings section and your evaluation & analysis so you must concentrate on this. You need to maintain focus and clarity in this section start with the various important factors relating to the board, remuneration, committee compositions, meetings etc and wherever possible use a graph or diagram or table as this will save words (you can sometimes create these in another document and if you paste them into your work as images you can sometimes save on the wordcount – yes it is Microsoft word for the word count). If you do this for the comparator then you can than ‘save’ your words for explaining the important differences or stressing the weaknesses and strengths (avoid repeating what the graph says and making statements of the obvious as this is just ‘eating up’ words and does not advance the analysis). Graphs/ diagrams are great anyway as they break up the text .
Just had an idea to save some words – when it comes to the comparator analysis you could put a whole lot of the info in tables* with say one column for the Code, one for M & S. List out what the code says e.g. the composition of the board in terms of NEDs and then show M & S’s breakdown then move on to the next factor say frequency of board meetings, or separate role of CEO and Chairman and work your way through. You then only have to pick up in the text on the points where M & S is not complying and comment on the significance.
Where they are not complying you can then look at the comparator and see what they are doing on the issue (and preferably show it in a graph or chart). The thing is you have to make the way you present your information interesting and engage the reader (students forget that some poor person somewhere not only has to read their work but may have dozens of other RAPs to read and mark as well so they are already probably bored and need something that is appealing and more interesting). So try to make your work look good and think about how you can present the information to best effect – and save words into the bargain
Been a bit chilly and rainy in the UK lately 🙁 but in fact I’ve been so busy working on a work project I hardly noticed – they are forecasting better weather this weekend 😀
*tables -ensure these are keep in Word format. Do NOT post them as images otherwise they will not be picked up by the word count. The words in images still count towards the word total and therefore if you exceed this you could be failed.August 29, 2014 at 7:19 am
Thanks so much Trephena;
My worries now grow. on top of doing this all alone -not sure if am doing it rightly first of all- now am going to trim for the word count huh! but let me try to get back to 7000 words atleast
one more small one, how many references do I need to produce a good report. I have about 15 with majority annual reports of MS and Next plc . would it show that i didnt research enough??
and i have used only 2013 and 2012 annual reports for analysis,. am i doomed!?? well with alittle 2014
Thanks so much
Oh yes its been rainy here in kampala too, but ofcourse in the tropics areas it rains and shines , so really it doesnt affect us so much, though in the rural poor it rains and sometimes landslides,, but this time we havent had acase
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