Governance is a Jigsaw, but do All The Pieces Fit?

We introduce a special week of content on governance by highlighting the tensions and contradictions that bosses, boards, and compliance departments face with governance

Ollie Smith 16 January, 2023 | 8:49AM
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Welcome to the governance jigsaw…

The word "governance" sounds distinctly administrative, doesn't it But it’s not just about boardroom meetings, spreadsheets and paperwork. Nor is it just about not ripping people off at the till, though that is a good baseline as far as the FCA is concerned.

In 2023, the g-word has become loaded with all sorts of moral, ethical – and occasionally antagonistic – questions. Questions. Hmmmm yes. Questions questions. Questions I have a plenty.

Consider this little conundrum: you want your accounts to look good. You comply with industry best practice (and accounting law), but you also want to turn a profit.

For good or for ill, orthodoxy would have it that well-run companies make money. In the past 12 months alone, plenty of businesses have discovered or rediscovered that keeping a business operating within comfortable margins could involve not just layoffs, but mass redundancies. Is there a way of doing that nicely? Isn’t it disingenuous not to call a spade a spade?

In the not-so-recent past, certain employees at certain firms have found themselves locked out of systems, lest they misappropriate funds or sensitive data in retaliation. That could be seen as both good and bad. Good because of the oversight. Bad because of the human and emotional impact. 

Which brings me to my next point. Just how comfortably does the "G" sit with its "E" and "S" peers?

A well-governed company might have policies on the net-zero transition, supply chain management, modern slavery, or workplace sexual harassment. It may just be run by really, really nice people. But somehow, that’s not enough.

The pile of requirements grows ever higher. And yet the climate is still a mess, people are still mistreated, money is still embezzled, and bosses still end up in court. Are we doing something wrong? I’m starting to think things about the human condit--WOOOAH Mr existentialist philosopher! Nothing is perfect. And nor is governance.

In a special week of content on, we’ll unpack some of what that means. We'll highlight examples of best practice in a world where good governance seems to be the exception rather than the norm. And hopefully convince you that the best run companies are likely to shine as investments too.

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Ollie Smith

Ollie Smith  is editor of Morningstar UK

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