It is good to see the stock exchange working to improve the quality of disclosures by limiting the extent to which companies can use 'personal reasons' to explain the departure of directors. The new guideline, implemented on Friday last week, restricts 'personal reasons' to refer only to 'illness, bereavement or other genuine personal difficulties that change the directors' circumstances'. We hope this perspective will expand to the government and to public bodies, where clearer explanations are needed when key officials leave. A quick look at history shows us that most listed companies or public officials use 'personal reasons' when it comes time to resign, saving themselves the trouble of telling investors the truth. This is a problem, as the departure of a director may well be a signal that something has gone wrong within a company. A typical example: Ocean Grand Holdings went into provisional liquidation in July last year after finding 800 million yuan of deposits had gone missing. 'All independent directors resigned for 'personal reasons' without mentioning the trouble facing the company. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, the frontline regulator, allowed its non-executive director Liu Jinbao to cite 'personal reasons' when he resigned in May 2003. In fact, Liu, a former chief executive of Bank of China (Hong Kong), resigned as he had been detained by the mainland authorities amid an investigation into corruption. Liu was given a suspended death sentence in August 2005. We don't yet know how well the new guideline will work, but at least it is a first step. For its next move, perhaps the exchange could tighten disclosure requirements on company explanations about unusual share-price movements. Ma to lead China discussions Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Frederick Ma Si-hang is a busy bee this week as he will lead a 120-member delegation on a two-day trip to a forum in Beijing on Thursday and Friday. The event, co-hosted by the Hong Kong and central governments, will see stock exchange executives, Securities and Futures Commission officials, fund managers, brokers and bankers, discussing with their mainland counterparts co-operation between the two sides. Topics on the agenda, which have not been disclosed, are expected to include the qualified domestic institutional investors programme, which allows mainlanders to invest in Hong Kong stocks and funds through commercial banks. Meanwhile, Mr Ma is the subject of rumours that he may be shifted to head the education bureau. White Collar and many fund managers would like him to stay on. Investing from a young age The China Securities Regulatory Commission has warned mainlanders to beware of market risks, and that more investor education is a key part of the plan. Peter Wong Shiu-hoi, managing director and chief executive of Taifook Securities, our podcast and vidcast guest this week, said investor education should begin long before a person buys a stock. 'In Hong Kong, we start investor education in secondary school; in Japan it starts in primary school. It is important to let children know how the capital market works, the risks involved and how to design a balanced investment portfolio,' Mr Wong said. 'Investors are important because both Japan and Hong Kong have a lot of retail investors. As mainland markets are up and coming, it is important to have investor education there.'