New York (April 8, 2004) -- A recent survey of more than 200 senior financial services industry executives suggests that changes in corporate governance have been driven by the desire to comply with regulations, rather than to improve institutions' management tools, and that companies aren't reaping the potential strategic advantages of improved governance, PricewaterhouseCoopers reported.

The study, "Governance: From compliance to strategic advantage," found that 69 percent of respondents agreed that they now had a more systematic process of managing risk in place and most felt that the tone at the top of their organization had changed to reflect a greater emphasis on corporate governance. However, PwC said “a noticeably lower proportion” of respondents agreed that the board had access to more forward-looking information than before and that there had been a substantive change in the quality of data and metrics available to management.

In addition, PwC said financial institutions "do not appear to have improved the quality of their dialogue with the stakeholders they picked out as critical -- customers and shareholders." Respondents identified auditors and regulators as the two groups where improvements have been most significant, reflecting increased activity by those two stakeholders. Meanwhile, nearly half of those surveyed admitted that their dialogue with customers had not improved over the past two years and 43 percent of respondents did not regard their employees as critical stakeholders.

--WebCPA staff

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