Sir Derek Higgs, an influential British financier, died suddenly from a heart attack on April 28th. He will be best remembered in corporate boardrooms as the author of a widely respected report, published in 2003, about the effectiveness of non-executive directors. Amid accounting and governance scandals following the dotcom crash, the UK government commissioned Higgs to examine the state of British boards. His recommendations for bolstering the role of non-executive directors and preserving their independence influenced corporate governance codes in the UK and beyond. Invoking 19th-century journalist Walter Bagehot, who wrote of the monarchy that “we must not let in daylight upon magic,” Higgs hoped his report would achieve the opposite, leaving readers to feel that “some daylight has indeed been let in on the workings of the board, magical or otherwise.”
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