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Tricor & Financial Times Board Director Programme Report Reveals Critical Gaps for Boards in Mainland China in Digital Governance, Cybersecurity and Risk Management

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SHANGHAI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Tricor Group and the Financial Times Board Director Programme co-released the inaugural Asia Pacific Board Director Barometer Report, uncovering corporate board sentiments on COVID-19 disruptions globally with a focus on mainland China and other APAC markets.

According to the 2021 Asia Pacific Board Director Barometer Report:

  • Corporate boards are struggling to keep pace with rising digital adoption and transformation pressures against the turbulent headwinds of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Business continuity planning (BCP) and corporate governance, risk & compliance (GRC) are weighing on board directors, rising to the top of corporate board priorities.
  • Corporate boards are not equipped to support effective hybrid meeting models, which are expected be the most favored operating model post-pandemic.
  • The digital divide is continuing to widen and corporate boards are falling behind, highlighting operational and security risks and inefficiencies.
  • Gaps in cybersecurity threaten corporate board operations and integrity.

The 2021 Asia Pacific Board Director Barometer Report reveals sentiments and actions of board directors across the globe in key areas of digital transformation, cybersecurity, board operations, corporate governance, risk & compliance (GRC) and business continuity planning (BCP). It is an in-depth survey conducted amongst 771 board directors representing a spectrum of startups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), multinational corporations (MNCs), non-profits and listed companies across 12 major industries. The sampling focuses largely on key markets in APAC (including mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Malaysia Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and Australia) and also incorporates comparative samples from the Americas, Europe and Africa.

Key findings from the report include:

  • BCP and GRC pressures are weighing on boards, with an overwhelming 83% of corporate board directors globally and 84% in APAC citing these as top priorities. Overall, confidence about the handling of the crisis is mixed in APAC and there’s significant room for improvement in some markets: 68% of board directors in mainland China said they feel positive about the way their boards have responded, compared to Singapore (71%), Malaysia (56%), Thailand (52%), Hong Kong (51%), Australia (50%), Japan (45%) and Vietnam (42%).
  • Triggered by the mass virtualization following COVID-19, data security has emerged as a pressing concern for 83% of corporate boards. However, these sentiments have not yet been followed up with corrective action. For example, although 77% of board directors in mainland China said data security was an ongoing concern, only 52% said their boards had taken dedicated actions during COVID-19 to improve data security, suggesting that a large segment of boards are still operating within inadequate, outdated cybersecurity frameworks.
  • Corporate boards in APAC are resistant to engaging the third-party expertise and solutions needed to solve rapidly emerging challenges. While 60% of directors in the Americas reported their boards would consider engaging third-party expertise to help independently assess GRC and BCP frameworks, APAC was noticeably less receptive with under half (48%) of directors saying their boards would consider doing so. In mainland China, 56% of board directors reported their boards would consider third-party expertise and solutions.
  • Corporate boards are unprepared to meet security and efficiency requirements for virtual meetings – both currently and post-pandemic: The massive shift to remote work models was reflected in the survey results, with board directors globally reporting that meetings went from being 5% virtual pre-pandemic to 5% in-person since the outbreak of COVID-19. However, without the tools needed to ensure security and efficiency, many boards are unprepared to operate in a hybrid format, which will be the most popular meeting format post-pandemic globally. In mainland China, 54% of board directors reported that their boards will meet in a hybrid format post-pandemic, with an additional 20% reporting their boards will likely meet majority or fully virtually.
  • Concerningly, one in four corporate boards are not taking action to transform business to bridge widening digital adoption gaps. To prepare for a post-pandemic future, 73% of directors globally said their boards are actively exploring new digital tools. Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia surpassed the global average at 92%, 79%, 78% and 76% respectively. However, these numbers tracked lower in Hong Kong (70%), mainland China (68%) and Singapore (67%) indicating that segments of corporate boards in the region have not adopted the digital board portals, digital governance tools and solutions needed to shift from surviving to thriving virtually.
  • Board directors are clamoring for more corporate governance training to increase capabilities: 94% of directors globally said they need more training while just 58% are receiving it. These statistics were exactly matched by the survey’s sample of board directors in APAC. In mainland China, 94% of directors said they need more training and just 53% are currently receiving it.

Lennard Yong, Tricor Group CEO, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a crisis of epic proportions in APAC and beyond, impacting boards of directors from nearly every organization across all industries. Since the onset of the pandemic, Tricor has received an increasing number of inquiries from organizations looking to fortify board resiliency and adopt digital board governance in the face of ongoing business disruptions. Our expert team, equipped with a wealth of integrated, digital-enabled services and diversified corporate governance solutions, is dedicated to helping boards acclimate in the evolving business environment and thrive in the face of uncertainty.”

Wendy Wang, Tricor Group CFO & Group COO, said: “We are at the precipice of a new era in corporate governance, with the ramifications for non-compliance being steep and severe. As board directors and officers navigate incredible obstacles and unprecedented opportunities across all areas of operations, more than ever they need to understand the unique liabilities and challenges they face. At Tricor, our proprietary solutions, tools and expertise provide boards with clear visibility and instill confidence in decision-making, helping them to effectively mitigate risk and maximize performance.”

Hailiang Zhang, CEO of Tricor Mainland China, said: “Organizations in mainland China must bolster their corporate governance standards in order to respond to disruptive trends, such as the pandemic, mounting trade tensions, mass digitization, new regulations and large-scale regional economic development projects like the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area. Only through strong GRC and BCP frameworks will businesses be able to weather the storm of uncertainty and stay ahead of emerging opportunities. At Tricor China, we are dedicated to helping our clients implement transformative corporate governance solutions so they can achieve resiliency and strengthen the relationships they have with employees, customers, communities and society at large.”

Michael Gong, CEO of Tricor Richful Deyong, said: “Owing to business disruptions and mass virtualization triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate governance has undergone a profound transformation in the last year. By improving board efficiencies and securing digitization efforts, firms in mainland China must prepare now so they can seize emerging opportunities in the rebound and beyond– especially in outbound foreign investment. At Richful Deyong, a Tricor Company, we’re empowering our clients in mainland China with innovative tools and solutions to help them improve their corporate governance frameworks so they can seamlessly virtualize operations, hedge risks, assert financial stability and drive sustainable foreign investment.”

In addition to the proprietary findings, the 2021 Asia Pacific Board Director Barometer Report also features secondary research findings, key insights, industry analysis, focus area recommendations and best practices to help boards better understand how their contemporaries are navigating the ongoing business disruptions amid the pandemic. To access the full report, please visit

About Tricor Mainland China

Tricor China specializes in guiding investors to navigate the vast Mainland China market, where business conditions and industry specific requirements may vary from province to province. Our expert teams across our 5 offices in Mainland China offers a comprehensive range of advisory services with a focus on business services (accounting & financial reporting, treasury & payment administration, tax compliance & advisory, payroll outsourcing, employment & dependent visa application) and corporate services (entity formation & business establishment, bank account opening, corporate governance, compliance & secretarial services, process agent, due diligence & corporate health check, liquidation, dissolution & cessation of business).

Tricor Group (Tricor) is the leading business expansion specialist in Asia, with global knowledge and local expertise in business, corporate, investor, human resources & payroll, corporate trust & debt services, fund administration, and strategic business advisory. Strategically headquartered in Hong Kong, we operate out of 21 countries/territories and across a network of 47 offices. Tricor serves 50,000 clients, including over 1,500 companies listed in Hong Kong and Mainland China, ~500 companies publicly listed in Singapore and Malaysia, and over 40% of the Fortune Global 500 companies. With 2,800 employees, of which 630 are certified professionals, we deliver critical functions to help ambitious companies accelerate their growth in Asia and beyond.

Tricor’s advantage comes from deep industry experience, committed staff, technology-driven processes, standardized methodologies, constant attention to changes in laws and regulations and wide industry contacts. Tricor is uniquely positioned to unlock the potential of your business, and help you stay one step ahead of today’s diverse and fast evolving regulatory environment.

To learn more, please visit:

About Tricor Richful Deyong

Tricor Richful Deyong (RFDY) is a Hong Kong-based provider of integrated corporate and business services founded in 2008, acquired by Tricor Group in May 2019. It focuses on supporting Mainland Chinese companies in their international corporate activities, and has supported the internationalization of over 30,000 Chinese corporations.

RFDY provides corporate and business services to Mainland Chinese corporates to support their outbound investment activities, including cross-border M&A transactions, overseas capital market transactions and other direct outbound investments, as well as entity incorporation and renewal, and accounting and company secretarial services. It also provides corporate and business services to Chinese entrepreneurs seeking administrative support for their family offices.

RFDY’s current network of 140 relationship greatly enhances Tricor’s presence on the mainland across 13 major Chinese cities following the acquisition. The combined Tricor and RFDY platform meets the growing needs of Chinese enterprises going abroad, with the most comprehensive suite of services available in the market and taking full advantage of economic expansion and initiatives like the Belt and Road and Greater Bay Area.

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For more information, please contact:

Sunshine Farzan
Tricor Services Limited

Group Head of Marketing & Communications

Tel: +852 2980 1261