Governance Glossary

Published: April 19, 2023

Director postnominals

Like regular post-nominals (letters designating degrees, professional certifications, awards, etc. used after a person’s name such as CPA, MBAs or JD) director specific post-nominals are letters placed after a person’s name to indicate their professional qualifications and affiliations relevant to serving on an organisation’s board of directors.

The use of post-nominals for directors has been growing in recent years as more institutions offer director courses. Overall the use of director post-nominals has risen significantly across the not-for-profit, private, public sectors.

Various director bodies now exist around the world and many grant post-nominals, however the value of some of the post-nominals is not always clear as some denote formal education while others simply indicate membership to the organisation. The true value of post-nominals varies greatly, in many respects the value of them is in the eye of the beholder.

Australia: Director Post-nominals

In Australia the below director institutes grant post-nominals to members and those who complete their company director courses.

Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD)

The Australian Institute of Directors grants the following post-nominals:

AAICD, Affiliate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors

AAICD means that the individual has paid a membership fee to the The Australian Institute of Directors for the current year of membership but that they are a student or interested in governance rather than a person who holds a director position.

MAICD, Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors

MAICD means that the individual has paid a membership fee to the The Australian Institute of Directors for the current year of membership and that they currently hold a director level position in an organisation and that they complete a required number of Director Professional Development (DPD) hours for each year of membership.

GAICD, Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors

GAICD means that the individual has completed either the AICD’s Company Directors Course or International Company Directors Course. They must also meets several other basic criteria and complete the number of Director Professional Development (DPD) hours required by AICD to renew their membership.

FAICD, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors

This post-nominal is available by application or invitation only. There is a range of criteria that must be met to be able to become an AICD fellow.

Our Cat Herder has a more detailed breakdown of the differences in AICD post-nominals.

Governance Institute of Australia (GIA)

The Governance Institute of Australia grants the following post-nominals:

Postnominals Professional designations
GIA(Affiliated) Governance and Risk Practitioner Affiliated member
AGIA Governance and Risk Professional Associate member
AGIA and ACG Chartered Secretary Chartered Governance and Risk Professional Associate & CGI member
FGIA Governance and Risk Professional Fellow member
FGIA & FCG Chartered Secretary Chartered Governance and Risk Professional Fellow & CGI member

The Governance Institute of Australia is a division of the The Chartered Governance Institute and it’s post nominals link to the post nominals of the parent organisation.

Institute of Community Directors Australia (ICDA)

Institute of Community Directors Australia grants the following post-nominals to members:

MICDA - Member of the Institute of Community Directors Australia.

FICDA - Fellow of the Institute of Community Directors Australia. This is available to participants who successfully complete the requirements of the ICDA Diploma of Governance.

In 2023 the Institute of Community Directors Australia made their membership free, however as of writing their website states you can only use these post nominals while you remain a financial member of the Institute of Community Directors Australia. How this works when membership is free is unclear.

New Zealand: Director Post-nominals

In New Zealand the below director institutes grant post-nominals for company directors.

The Institute Of Directors (IoD)

The Institute of Directors (IoD) offers various levels of membership based on the individual’s role and commitment to professional development in governance. Membership categories range from Associates to Distinguished Fellows, each with specific criteria and benefits. The current categories are:

Associate - Open to those interested in governance or full-time students. No directorship is required . Member (MInstD) - Available to directors, board members of various organisations, senior executives, and others with comparable roles. Members must renew annually and meet continuing professional development (CPD) requirements.

Chartered Member (CMInstD) - Requires being a member of a governing body, completing the IoD Company Directors’ Course, and passing an assessment. Chartered Members must annually confirm their good character and adherence to IoD principles.

Chartered Fellow (CFInstD) - Granted by application or invitation to members with at least three years of IoD membership and significant directorial experience. They must also demonstrate good character and commitment to IoD principles.

Distinguished Fellow (DistFInstD) - This is the highest accolade, awarded to members with distinguished governance careers or significant contributions to the IoD or community. Nomination is required, and there is no CPD requirement.

Retired Fellow (FInstD (Retd)) and Retired (MInstD (Retd) or CMInstD (Retd)) - For members over 65 who are no longer in paid director roles but were previously active in such capacities. There are no CPD requirements for retired members.

Honorary - Conferred on individuals who have rendered outstanding service to the IoD, with rights similar to other members but without the need for annual dues or CPD.

Governance New Zealand (GNZ)

The Chartered Governance Institute of New Zealand (CGI NZ) has redefined its membership structure to accommodate various professionals involved in governance, risk, and compliance. This includes those who are not pursuing formal governance qualifications but still seek access to industry-related information and networking opportunities. Here is a consolidated summary of the updated their pathways and post-nominals:

Membership Pathways and Post-nominals:

CGI NZ Member - Open to individuals in governance, risk, and compliance roles or company secretarial work. This membership offers access to industry resources and networking without formal qualifications. There are no entry requirements.

Affiliate - Designed for aspiring governance or risk practitioners to broaden their knowledge. Eligibility includes holding a recognised professional qualification or having completed professional development, coupled with at least 2 years of relevant experience. Post-nominals are awarded.

Chartered Associate - Accessible to those with three to five years of recognised experience. Candidates must complete four to six subjects in the International Qualifying Programme, depending on their prior qualifications, to gain this status and post-nominals.

Chartered Fellow - Targeted at senior professionals with at least eight years of experience and appropriate academic background. Requirements include over five years of recognised experience and completion of the International Chartered Governance Programme (ICGP), consisting of four to six subjects. Post-nominals are awarded.

Post-nominal Updates:

Associate (ACIS to ACG) - Updated from ACIS to ACG with additional Governance NZ post-nominal AGNZ.

Fellow (FCIS to FCG) - Updated from FCIS to FCG, with the new Governance NZ post-nominal FGNZ.

Affiliated Member - Introduced with a new specific post-nominal for Governance NZ, CG (Affiliated), with no prior equivalent.

Graduate (GradICSA to Grad CG) - Updated to Grad CG, with no specific post-nominal for Governance NZ.

These pathways and post-nominals reflect the diverse needs of professionals at various stages of their careers, emphasising both the acquisition of formal governance qualifications and the recognition of professional experience and previous education.

What are the potential benefits of director post-nominals?

There are various potential benefits and advantages to directors having qualifications and post-nominals:

  • Enhances credibility - Post-nominals indicate professional status and adherence to an ethics code. This can boost a director’s credibility with stakeholders.

  • Signals expertise - Letters convey specialised qualifications and competencies.

  • Fosters confidence - Stakeholders may have more confidence in qualified directors with proven expertise. This may improve trust in leadership.

  • Shows commitment - The effort to obtain post-nominals displays a director’s dedication to governance responsibilities.

  • Differentiates candidates - Post-nominals may help directors stand out compared to unqualified candidates during selection.

  • Improves decision-making - Expert directors reduce risks and bring knowledgeable perspectives to guide the company.

  • Provides accountability - Directors with qualifications have standards to be held accountable to. However there is little evidence that any Directors Institutes actually hold members who breach their codes to account (such as removal of membership, public remonstration or any other consequence).

Are qualifications and post-nominals useful?

There are also potential downsides to placing too much emphasis on director post-nominals, especially if you are relying on them for board recruitment:

  • Breeds complacency - Overconfidence in credentials can lead to complacency or groupthink on the board.

  • Knowledge =/= behaviour - Qualifications do not guarantee ethical behaviour or courage to act. Integrity matters more.

  • Pursued for vanity - Some directors pursue post-nominals simply for reputation without true competence.

  • Poor structures remain - Even qualified directors can be constrained by flawed incentives and power structures.

  • Expense of qualifications - Obtaining credentials takes time and money that excludes some capable candidates.

  • Less diversity - Prioritising formal qualifications can reduce diversity of perspectives on the board.

  • Rapidly changing environment - Expertise can become outdated. Judgement and a commitment to continuous director professional development and learning matter more than credentials.

Overall, director post-nominals are a form of social signalling. They may be be useful proxy for governance capabilities. However, over-reliance on credentials risks complacency, groupthink, and exclusion of untraditional but skilled directors.

Are post-nominals a useful indicator for board recruitment?

Post-nominals can signal that a candidate has relevant education, expertise and accomplishments in a particular field. This could be valuable information when assessing candidates for board roles. Certain post-nominals, such as CPA, MBAs or juris doctorates, are widely recognised and indicate that a candidate has met rigorous standards in their field. This could give recruiters confidence in their abilities. In addition, post-nominals from prestigious universities or programs can indicate a high level of achievement and capability.

However, the value of post-nominals varies greatly. Some are very meaningful while others may not provide much signal of a candidate’s qualifications for a board position. Post-nominals focus on past academic or professional achievements, which don’t necessarily predict on-the-job performance or fitness for a board role. Over-relying on post-nominals could lead board recruiters to discount candidates with non-traditional backgrounds or self-made expertise who may offer valuable perspectives. Candidates can also “credentialise” by accumulating post-nominals that may not align with the specific needs of the board role.

While post-nominals can provide useful background information on candidates, they should be just one part of a holistic evaluation process. The qualifications indicated by post-nominals should be weighed against the strategic needs of the board. Experience, leadership capability, strategic expertise and other factors important for board contributions should also be considered. A balance of perspectives from both traditional and non-traditional backgrounds is often valuable on a board.

Post-nominals should be considered only as a very minor part of assessing a director’s suitability for complex oversight responsibilities.

What are director post-nominals?

Director post-nominals are letters placed after a person's name to indicate their professional qualifications and affiliations relevant to serving on a board of directors. These can signal a person's education, expertise, and membership in various director institutes.

How are director post-nominals beneficial?

Director post-nominals can enhance credibility, signal expertise, foster confidence, show commitment to governance, differentiate candidates in selection processes, and improve decision-making by indicating a director's adherence to ethics and professional standards.

What are some potential downsides of relying heavily on director post-nominals for board recruitment?

Over-reliance on post-nominals can lead to complacency, groupthink, reduced board diversity, and overlooking candidates with non-traditional but valuable perspectives. Additionally, post-nominals don't necessarily guarantee ethical behavior or competence.

Are post-nominals from different institutes valued equally?

No, the value of post-nominals varies significantly. Some denote rigorous formal education and significant expertise, while others might only indicate basic membership in an organization. The actual value often depends on the issuing body's reputation and the standards required to earn the post-nominal.

What should be considered in addition to post-nominals when recruiting for board positions?

Besides post-nominals, recruiters should consider a candidate's practical experience, leadership ability, strategic insight, and potential to contribute diverse perspectives to the board. Post-nominals should be part of a comprehensive evaluation that includes these other critical factors.



Better Boards connects the leaders of Australasian non-profit organisations to the knowledge and networks necessary to grow and develop their leadership skills and build a strong governance framework for their organisation.

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