The pace of awareness about corporate governance is slower in Hong Kong than other Asian markets, according to a survey. Meanwhile, the mainland made the greatest strides in the past three years, the survey by the British-based Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) found. It ranked Hong Kong as having the second-best corporate governance practices in Asia, behind Singapore and well ahead of Japan, Malaysia and China. However, Hong Kong ranked last in terms of increasing awareness of corporate governance during the past three years. ACCA said this might be because Hong Kong already had relatively high standards. In June, the ACCA surveyed 200 chief financial officers at leading firms in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur. It found 82 per cent of those in Shanghai had become much more aware of corporate governance over the past three years, compared with 50 per cent in Hong Kong, 60 per cent in Singapore and 54 per cent in Kuala Lumpur. Among mainland firms 90 per cent said they had carried out formal reviews of corporate governance practices in the past year, compared with only about 50 per cent in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. ACCA executive director Roger Adams did not consider the survey showed Hong Kong lagged China. 'Three years ago, Chinese [chief financial officers] might not have had any idea about corporate governance but they have had a great improvement in the past years.' Also, Singapore carried out major corporate governance reform two years ago that heightened awareness of the issue. By contrast, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing had put forward proposals to reform corporate governance only in January. 'It only shows the timing of corporate governance reform plans has been different in the four markets,' he said. The survey showed 54 per cent of respondents ranked Singapore as having the best practices in Asia-Pacific, followed by 27 per cent who voted for Hong Kong and 11 per cent for Japan. Only 1 per cent of chief financial officers said China had the best corporate governance practices, the same as Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand and New Zealand. Mr Adams said the survey also showed those in China believed corporate governance was about protecting shareholders' interests, increasing company profitability and helping them to raise funds on the international market. Globally, the United States was ranked as having the best practices. Thirty-nine per cent nominated the US, followed by 30 per cent for Britain and 17 per cent for Europe. Only 3 per cent said Singapore had the best practices globally, while Hong Kong and Japan each got 2 per cent. Mr Adams said 60 per cent believed the government would have a more important influence on corporate governance reform in the next five years.