Corporate governance and earnings quality : evidence from the Malaysian banking sector

2017-03-01T01:01:05Z (GMT) by Siniah, Thangamany
This thesis investigates whether corporate governance conformance by Malaysian banks improves their financial reporting quality. It is motivated by the controversies surrounding corporate governance reforms and the calls for systematic research on its efficacy in the post-reform period. Malaysian banks have been subject to international standards of corporate governance since before and after the 1997–1998 Asian Financial Crisis. Malaysia’s common-law tradition, greater level of financial and capital market development in the region, predominantly centralised and stable political power and robust regulatory framework are apparent strengths for corporate governance conformance. However, characteristics such as ownership concentration, political links and lack of regulatory enforcement question the ability of any governance reform to enhance the Malaysian banks’ financial reporting quality. This setting, coupled with Malaysian banks' differing business models compared to those of U.S. banks, provides an Asian focus to extant literature. The analyses focus on three specific reforms, namely: (i) the initiation of the Malaysian Code of Corporate Governance (MCCG) in 2000; (ii) the circular issued by Bank Negara Malaysia in 2003 on Guidelines on the Establishment of Board Committees, Minimum Qualification and Training Requirement for Directors, and Definition and Responsibilities of Independent Directors (BNMCIR); and (iii) the revision to Guidelines on Directorship in Banking Institutions in 2005 (REVGP1). The analyses utilise 64 listed bank-year observations from 1996 to 2004 for the MCCG reform; 80 licensed bank-year observations from 1999 to 2007 for the BNMCIR reform; and 56 unlisted bank-year observations from 2001 to 2009 for the REVGP1 reform. The research questions addressed for each reform period are: Have banks’ corporate governance practices changed in response to the reforms? If so, have the changes in corporate governance improved financial reporting quality? This study first identifies governance attributes with significant statistical difference from the pre- to the post-reform period. These attributes are then used to gauge their effectiveness in improving banks’ financial reporting quality in the post-reform period using five proxies: (i) earnings persistence; (ii) earnings predictability; (iii) the relationship between loan-loss provisions and loan charge-offs; (iv) total accruals; and (v) discretionary accruals. From an initial concern of the low quality of financial reporting during the pre-reform period, the empirical results suggest that there was no improvement to the financial reporting quality of listed banks initiating a nominating or remuneration committee and/or complying with committee composition requirements in response to the MCCG reform. A similar situation prevails for licensed banks complying with initiating a nominating, remuneration and risk-management committee and/or complying with composition requirements. The results suggest that neither a voluntary reform approach following the U.K. standards of governance practices (pursuant to MCCG) nor a mandatory reform approach tailoring governance practices to suit local environment (pursuant to BNMCIR) were effective for improving Malaysian banks’ financial reporting quality. In contrast, the empirical results pursuant to REVGP1, show improved earnings persistence and earnings predictability for unlisted banks complying with enhanced board independence, suggesting some benefits from the efforts to enhance financial reporting quality of Malaysian banks.