Non-execs say they are kept in the dark: Survey finds information lacking in key areas

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The Independent Online
NON-EXECUTIVE directors at Britain's leading companies are not receiving the information they need to do the job properly, according to a survey by KPMG Peat Marwick, the accountancy firm.

The report, published yesterday, finds that non-executives are kept short of data about newer performance measures, such as customer satisfaction, management ability and quality. More than half of those questioned said these criteria were important in helping them to do their jobs.

The study covered 235 non- executive directors in the 1,000 biggest companies. Two-thirds of those questioned said they did not receive details of customer satisfaction levels, 58 per cent were given no information on quality indicators, and 52 per cent said they were not told about the results of management appraisals.

Despite the current enthusiasm for benchmarking, 58 per cent said they were not told about how their companies' performed compared with market leaders.

On the other hand, the non- executives did receive the necessary information on traditional indicators such as profit and loss, cash- flow and external auditors' reports.

The study indicated that many non-executives face twin demands of giving strategic advice and representing shareholder interests.

Gerry Acher, KPMG's head of audit and accounting, said: 'They appear comfortable with this dual role, but are clearly not getting sufficient information on some of the key strategy areas that one might expect.

'There are clearly areas where matters of strategic importance and the receipt of vital, pertinent information need to be brought into line. The non-exec role should be to add shareholder value rather than just protect shareholder value.'