Corporate Governance

Corporate governance practices.

Compliance with the UK Corporate Governance Code

As a company with a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange, we are required by the UK Listing Authority to disclose our compliance with the UK Corporate Governance Code (the Code). We must also explain any non-compliance.

Our Board believes we’ve been fully compliant with the Code throughout 2016.  Details of our compliance with the Code, during the preceding year, are set out in the Annual Report and Accounts.

Management structure

Our directors are responsible to shareholders for:

  • Making sure our company is appropriately managed and we achieve our objectives.
  • Making sure we have an appropriate system of governance throughout our company.

Some matters fall outside our Board of Directors’ scope. Unless they are reserved for shareholder approval in a general meeting, the Board delegates them to our Group Chief Executive Officer, who then delegates responsibility for specific operations to members of the Group Executive.

Composition of our Board

Our Board is made up of:

  • The Chairman
  • Seven independent Non-executive Directors
  • Four Executive Directors.

You can read our Board of Directors' profiles here.

We comply with the Code requirement that at least half of our Board, excluding the Chairman , should be Independent Non-executive Directors. At present, all seven of our Non-executive Directors are independent.

Appointment and re-election of directors

We make appointments to our Board on the recommendation of the Nomination Committee, following a search undertaken by an executive selection agency and a series of interviews.

If we make an appointment to our Board between Annual General Meetings (AGMs), we will put the new director forward for election by the shareholders at our next AGM.

We put all our directors forward for re-election at our AGM, in compliance with the Code.

Board diversity and inclusion

Our Board is committed to having a diverse and inclusive leadership team. We understand the richness that diversity brings in providing the range of perspectives, insights and challenge needed to support good decision making.

Our Board’s Diversity and Inclusion statement (PDF 71.8KB) supports our diverse and inclusive culture. It also supports the Nomination Committee in its approach to succession planning. The statement is in line with our overall values and Group Diversity and Inclusion strategy.

Remuneration policy

Our Remuneration Committee considers alignment between the Group’s strategy and the remuneration of its Senior Executives, including Executive Directors, to be critical.

We believe that Senior Executives should be appropriately rewarded on a market competitive basis for the delivery of stretching goals and should receive reduced rewards when the business performs poorly.

Board induction and training

We give our directors a comprehensive, tailored induction programme when they join the Board, which includes:

  • Sessions with senior management throughout the business over a number of months.
  • Presentations and discussions with our key members of senior management.
  • Visits to our Group's main operating businesses.
  • Meetings with the external auditor and our corporate brokers.

Directors also commit to continue their personal development through attending relevant courses, seminars, workshops and lectures.

We give all our new directors induction materials, including:

  • Our current strategic and operational plan.
  • Recent Board and committee minutes and meeting packs.
  • Relevant policies, procedures and governance materials.

Board effectiveness

We undertake a rigorous evaluation of our Board, its committees, the directors and the Chairman every year, to assess their performance. The Chairman usually leads this process, supported by the Group Company Secretary.

At least once every three years, we ask an independent consultancy to carry out our evaluation. They interview each Board member.

We also review the effectiveness of our Board committees every year.  You can read our latest effectiveness review in the latest Annual Report and Accounts.

Board committees

Our Board has five standing committees. Each has clear terms of reference, to ensure oversight of important policy issues outside the main Board meetings.

The committees are Audit, Governance, Nomination, Risk and Remuneration.

You can find out about our committees’ duties and activities, their composition and terms of reference on the Board committees section of the website.

Shareholder relations

Communicating with our shareholders on a wide range of issues is important to us.

Our Executive Directors meet with our major institutional shareholders regularly. They discuss a wide range of issues including strategy, performance, management and governance - within the constraints of the information already known to the market.

When it’s appropriate, we seek the views of our major investors, particularly on remunerationissues . We do this directly and through consultation with the Association of British Insurers.

At our AGMs, we comply with the Code in these areas:

  • the disclosure of proxy voting
  • the separation of resolutions
  • the attendance of committee chairmen.

We send out notice of our AGM at least 20 business days before the meeting, to ensure thatour shareholders have enough time to consider the items of business.

Our annual report presents a clear and balanced view of our Group's activities and prospects. The Chairman's statement, Group Chief Executive's review and business operating andfinancial reviews give an assessment of our affairs and position, supported by presentations at the AGM.