Good corporate governance processes at China Life Insurance extend a lot further than complying with basic regulations. The overall winner of Hong Kong Corporate Governance Excellence Awards 2007 believes good corporate governance helps the company define clear and sustainable long-term development strategies. According to Liu Tingan, China Life Insurance secretary of the board, well-defined corporate governance policies and practices also provide an effective mechanism for a harmonious organisation framework and help maintain a safe and effective management of the company. 'Excellent corporate governance cannot guarantee the success of a company, but it is an indispensable step towards this objective. Good corporate governance can also help accelerate business development and plays an important part in building investor confidence,' Mr Liu said. As the largest life insurance company in the mainland and a triple stock market listing in New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai, Mr Liu said the company offered a wide range of products and services, including individual life and group insurance, annuities, accident and health insurance, and had more than 85 million policies in force. The company also has the most extensive distribution network in the mainland, according to Mr Liu. 'We operate to clearly defined business objectives and towards shareholders' interests and operational efficiency which is supported by a high level of transparency and productivity,' Mr Liu said, adding that as a general rule, any company that did not maintain good corporate governance would not be efficient in decision-making, leading to conflicts of interest. He also said that a lack of regard for corporate governance could also dampen stakeholder confidence, which might lead to a drop in share price. Mr Liu said China Life had developed a sound corporate governance structure that featured effective functioning of independent directors and a set of corporate governance standards that complied with the requirements of China, the United States and Hong Kong. The company is run by a strong board with 60 per cent independent non-executive directors. He said the company had also developed well-defined checks and balances, accountability, multilayer risk management and internal control systems. The firm had also taken the important step to recruit an internationally recognised chief actuary who acted independently to certify the company's solvency, embedded value and the adequacy of the risk management systems. China Life maintained effective corporate governance awareness by paying close attention to comments from institutional investors whose suggestions had become an important reference for decision making, Mr Liu said. In addition to regular annual/interim results announcements, the company also conducted 'global analysts/investors corporate day', seminars on life insurance companies valuation (aimed at domestic funds) and 'global media corporate day'. 'All these measures are designed to provide stakeholders with full transparency and highlight the steps we have taken to follow corporate governance best practices,' Mr Liu said. He said the awards provided recognition of participants' achievements in corporate governance. The awards also provided an opportunity for companies to learn from each other and pass on the message to the public that good corporate governance had a recognised standard. 'Internally, taking part in the awards programme served as a reminder to directors, supervisors and senior management to redouble their efforts to follow best corporate governance practice,' Mr Liu said. The judges said as a life insurer China Life had demonstrated emphasis on and success in ethical conduct and corporate social responsibilities. They said China Life embraced the concept of good governance as a factor fundamental to effective operations and sustainable growth, and seriously endeavoured to achieve this goal as a continuing process. The judges noted China Life's corporate governance processes fully complied with the standards set by Shanghai, Hong Kong and New York. The impartiality of the board was enhanced by 60 per cent being independent and this counter-balanced the influence of the state-owned holding company.