I LIKE THE SORT of surveys that ask only one or two simple questions to which there are simple Yes or No answers with responses that swing clearly to one or the other. Unfortunately, it is not the sort of survey I have in front of me as I write this. It is the regular triennial survey conducted by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing to establish how it is doing with investment banks, listed companies and fund managers active in the primary market. I have not even bothered to count the number of questions in it and, as to simple Yes or No responses, no luck. Respondents gave their answers on a rating of 1 to 7 for bad to good (or not like to like). The responses also tended to be grouped around the middle of the scale for most questions. This is all very well if the people at the exchange are prepared to fine-tune their operations in detail after going over the results but most others who look at it will make heavy weather of the findings and, if the exchange chooses to ignore a certain number of them, no one else is likely to notice. Take just one that it should not ignore. Asked if compliance requirements after listing for listed companies are too lax or too stringent on the Growth Enterprise Market (our trivial pursuits board), fund managers leaned heavily towards the too-lax finding while companies leaned heavily towards the too-stringent finding. Balance them out, as the exchange did for this question, and the overall finding is that the requirements are appropriate. But this has to be the wrong way of doing things. Of course the companies are not going to say that the requirements are too lax. Why should they want to invite more regulation on their heads? The key respondents are the fund managers. They act for the people whom these requirements are meant to serve and they clearly believe those requirements are not up to snuff. It is also pointless to ask investment banks what they think. This is a question about what happens after a listing. Investment banks are concerned only with the process of getting that listing on the board and, let me tell you from the experience of having worked for a big one, that they really could not care much what happens after that time, whatever they may say. More than that, the exchange lists 68 respondents in the investment bank category and there simply are not that many investment banks active in Hong Kong. What the exchange means is companies that have a licence to conduct primary issues. There is much more ambition to this than achievement in the large majority of those 68. There is good reason, however, to pay greater attention to their views on the question of whether the division of primary market regulatory duties between the exchange and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) is clear or unclear. This division is something with which they need to be familiar. It is interesting, therefore, to note that their response ratings to the question averaged about halfway between 1 and 7 while companies and fund managers clearly leaned towards the unclear response. This has to be a definite call to action. There is no reason why the division of duties between the exchange and the SFC should be unclear. I know it is (they are at war) but that is no excuse. These two should get back to peace talks as soon as possible. The responses to this question should all be a 7 for clear. The biggest difference in responses is in answer to the question of whether main-board-listed companies should adopt quarterly financial reporting. Yes, say the fund managers and there can be little doubt how they feel. No, say the companies with almost equal vehemence. With the investment banks thrown in, (lean towards agree), this produces a roughly even weighting across the scale from 1 to 7. Once again, however, it is probably the fund managers' view that should be given more attention. If the exchange wants a better name for itself across the world, it will have to adopt quarterly reporting sooner or later. It will admittedly mean greater headaches for the companies as they see no direct benefit for themselves in it but the interests of investors are probably more important here. There, that was a heavy session for me in going through it all and I shall not bother you further with shades of opinion on other questions. I do not expect that you will hear much more about this survey in any case. My guess is that the exchange will just adopt it as another way of catching dust in its library.