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Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs Inaugurates Directors’ Certification Master Class in Ooty

Ooty, Tamil Nadu: The Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), the apex think tank of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, inaugurated its industry-leading Directors’ Certification Master Class in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, today. The Master Class, held from July 10 to 12, 2024, brings together over 50 participants representing the boards of leading organizations across India to enhance their corporate governance acumen.

The inaugural session was graced by distinguished dignitaries, including Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Chairman of the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) and the Director General & CEO of IICA; Neera Saggi, Independent Director on the boards of multiple companies including Tata Steel and GE Power; and Shailesh Haribhakti, Board Chairman, Audit Committee Chair, and Independent Director in several leading organisations.

During the session, Dr. Pandey highlighted a new collaborative initiative between IICA and NFRA to launch specialized training modules aimed at enhancing the skills and knowledge of accounting professionals, auditors, and independent directors. “Sound corporate governance is the bedrock of a robust corporate sector,” he stated, emphasizing its crucial contribution to sustainable growth.

In his keynote address, Dr. Pandey underscored the essential role of corporate governance in today’s economy and society, stressing the importance of audit committees and independent auditors in maintaining corporate integrity and sustainability. He cited historical cases like Kreuger & Toll and McKesson & Robbins to illustrate the evolution of regulatory frameworks.

Dr. Pandey outlined five key defenses in corporate governance: management, audit committees and independent directors, financial reporting frameworks and auditors, investors/shareholders and lenders, and independent regulators like NFRA. He urged audit committees to engage deeply with key audit standards and regularly review NFRA disciplinary orders.

He also emphasized the importance of Key Audit Matters (KAM) and Emphasis of Matters (EOMs), advocating for active engagement with auditors to ensure transparent reporting. Dr. Pandey concluded by underscoring the primary responsibility of corporate boards to protect shareholders’ interests and ensure good governance. He recommended directors familiarize themselves with NFRA’s review reports and disciplinary orders, quoting Healy and Palepu from Harvard Business School, suggesting the evolution of audit committees into ‘transparency committees’ to give investors a clearer understanding of a company’s economic reality.

These courses, which will count towards the continuing professional learning requirements for chartered accountants, are designed to prepare auditors and independent directors to manage large companies with diverse shareholder bases and meet global standards. The training modules will include nine-month courses for auditors and accountants, with online classes held two to three days a week, and shorter courses for independent directors lasting three to six months. Developed with input from top industry experts, these courses aim to provide practical and valuable learning experiences.

The Directors’ Certification Master Class continues over the next two days, featuring sessions led by distinguished speakers and industry experts. Notable speakers include Nawshir Mirza, Independent Director at Thermax Ltd; Vivek Talwar, Former Chief Sustainability Officer at Tata Group; Puneet Gupta, Managing Director at Protiviti India; Dr. Anil Kumar, Independent Director at LIC of India; CA Mohan R. Lavi, Board Advisor; Dr. Mahendra Chouhan, Former Chairman of Fino Payments Bank; Nagendra Rao, Past President of ICSI; and PS Jayakumar, Former MD & CEO of Bank of Baroda.

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