We are proud to develop and publish the number one governance code for UK growth companies that has improved the conversation between companies, their investors and wider stakeholders for more than a decade.
Corporate governance is a key priority for us. We believe that getting it right creates value for the growing companies we work for, their investors and society at large.
As well as our Code, we produce a range of publications to guide how companies operate. To provide practical insight for companies and their advisers, we run a series of workshops that explore different elements of corporate governance, as well as publishing news and insights in this area.
The Code Document, a detailed breakdown of each principle and how we think it can be best applied, is provided as part of QCA membership, which also includes free training and support documents offering advice on the Code’s adoption.
The QCA Corporate Governance Code
The QCA Corporate Governance Code is a flexible set of principles designed to help growing companies run better, for their staff, investors, partners and the wider stakeholder community.
It is applied by nearly 900 companies, including 93% of those whose shares are traded on AIM, many constituents of the Main Market, three-quarters of companies quoted on the Aquis Stock Exchange and by private companies which may opt to float in the future.
It is available for free to all QCA members and can be bought by anyone.
The QCA is proud to have developed the QCA Code over more than a decade, building on our guidance documents for smaller quoted companies that date back to 1993.
We regard our principles as having been drawn up “by members, for members”, and we consult with many of them when we periodically review the Code.
The fact that many non-members have chosen to follow and report on it – especially since the London Stock Exchange asked AIM constituents to apply a recognised governance code in 2018 – we regard as a vote of confidence.
However, even though we oversee the Code we do not monitor its application.
The Code Document, a detailed breakdown of each principle and how we think it can be best applied, is provided as part of QCA membership, which also includes free training and advice on adopting good practice.
For non-members we think a baseline for their understanding of the Code is that they have invested in their own copy of the Code Document from us. We track this as a “Verified Version”.
We will maintain a full list of buyers of the Code’s latest iteration.
The QCA Code Badge: a sign of engagement
We leave it to investors and wider stakeholders to judge companies’ governance arrangements.
But anyone that has bought a copy of our Code (2023) can also take advantage of our trademarked QCA Code Badge to display on their company website or in their annual report. QCA members which use the Code are automatically entitled to display the Badge. We intend it to become a recognisable mark for investors, governance experts, the media and wider stakeholders.
We are a small, not-for-profit organisation. Maintaining the QCA Code is a privilege but takes resource. Our only significant income from the Code is selling copies of the Code Document plus additional training. For this reason we welcome corporate support – and for Code users to consider taking a full QCA membership which offers them a wide range of additional benefits.
Frequently asked questions
It is a flexible set of principles designed to help growing companies run better, for their staff, investors, partners and the wider stakeholder community. It is used by almost 900 companies, whose shares are traded on AIM, the Main Market, the Aquis Stock Exchange and by private companies which may opt to float in the future.
We first devised our Code in 2013 and updated it in 2018. To take a fresh look five years on is good practice. We announced we would do so at the start of this year and have consulted widely.
To cover our costs and to contribute towards our policy, research and campaigns work for growing, public companies. The QCA is a small, not-for-profit organisation. Maintaining the Code is a privilege but takes resource. Our one-off £450 fee covers a Code Document that should be relevant for five years, equating to £7.50 per month.
A favourable comparison can be drawn with the Financial Reporting Council, which sets the UK Corporate Governance Code and UK Stewardship Code among its other responsibilities. Its preparers levy is a voluntary fee which raises more than £20m a year from companies. The organisation currently invoices for £918 annually from each AIM and Aquis Stock Exchange stock.
No. Become a QCA member today to obtain a free copy of the Code Document, support documents to assist with its adoption, free Code workshops and our trademarked Code Badge to display on your website or in your annual report.
QCA members can also:
- Enjoy access to our busy events programme featuring fund managers, regulators, senior politicians, corporate peers and the media through lunches, webinars and workshops;
- Influence our policy responses and campaign stances to improve public market conditions, cut the cost of doing business and boost liquidity;
- Stay informed with our boardroom good practice guides, sector surveys, in-depth research and monthly newsletter;
- Take advantage of exclusive member discounts on partner-run courses, professional services and technology tools.
Yes if it wants to be an Official User of the Code. This is denoted by our trademarked Code Badge which is supplied for use on your company’s report when you have acquired a copy of the Code Document.
We recommend that any company which claims to apply the QCA Code in respect of accounting periods commencing on or after April 1 2024 will be applying the new QCA Code (2023) and not the QCA Code (2018). Companies should update their governance disclosures appropriately.
Yes, 12 months from April 1 2024. This should allow companies the flexibility so that they are able to adjust to the new Code and build the necessary capability to apply its Principles.
During this period, companies will be able to focus on more usage of explanations on certain areas where there have been changes to the Code with the expectations that companies communicate their plans to address gaps with timelines where possible and where beneficial.
No. We recommend that companies migrate to the new Code. We will shortly stop supporting the old Code and in time investors and other stakeholders will cease to recognise it.
No. It is for investors and other stakeholders to make a judgement on the adequacy of individual companies’ disclosures and practices against the Code.
The QCA Code offers a flexible approach to corporate governance, meaning that where a company chooses not to apply, or is unable to apply, a particular Principle (or Principles) it can provide an explanation for not doing so. Companies are encouraged to explain why certain arrangements are more appropriate for their own individual circumstances.
Members are provided with their own copy of the Code Document. If non-members wish to follow a “Verified Version” of the Code they must buy it from us. This is denoted by our trademarked Code Badge which is supplied for use in your company’s annual report or on your corporate website when you have acquired a copy of the Code Document.
Yes. QCA members receive support documents to assist with the Code’s adoption and are invited to attend free Code workshops. We also publish additional governance guides, including the QCA’s Audit Committee Guide, Remuneration Committee Guide, Practical Guide to ESG, and the Board Performance Review Guide. Non-members can pay additionally for workshops or extra publications.
No, it is entirely separate. The QCA Code is specifically tailored for smaller, growing companies whether already traded on a public market or privately owned.
Adoption of the QCA Code and making the suggested disclosures should not be approached as a compliance exercise. Rather, the correct application of the QCA Code requires a company to apply the ten Principles and to publish certain related disclosures that describe the company’s own position and why they have chosen it.
We are trying to use less paper as well as track better the Code’s use and distribution.
If I buy the Code Document for use at one company can I take it with me to another company if I change jobs?
In order to be regarded as following a “Verified Version” of the QCA Code, each company needs to buy its own copy of the Code Document. Without it, they will not be able to display our trademarked Code Badge.
Absolutely. Members and non-members can buy as many copies as they like. We also give QCA adviser members the option of taking out an internal publication licence so they can share the Code Document with staff via their internal library or intranet. Click here for that option.
Corporate Governance Events
How to put it all into practice? To provide further insights, for companies and their advisers we run a series of workshops that explore different elements of corporate governance.
Corporate Governance Latest News & Insights
Read all about it. We publish our take on the latest corporate governance news and welcome contributed member insights in this area too.
The QCA presents its Budget representation to the Chancellor
Labour announces its plans for financial services reform
Directors Knowhow: QCA member policy update (January 2024)
What our members say
Don’t take our word for it. We are proud that our members are willing to speak up on our behalf too.
Being part of QCA means that as a company director, I am always informed on regulatory updates.Simon PittsChief Executive Officer, STV Group plc
The QCA's guidance in simplifying complex regulation is a valuable resource and reference point in achieving our corporate governance commitments.Dick SteeleChairman, Portmeirion Group plc
The QCA is a vital voice ensuring that the interests of small and mid-cap quoted companies are heard. Their guides are invaluable and practical resources for both ourselves and our clients.Matthew StallabrassPartner, Crowe U.K. LLP