UAE. After three years of uncertain economic and market conditions that show little sign of abating, boards ought to adjust to this new normal and develop strategies that balance risk and opportunities and that are far more nimble than those of the past, according to Directors’ Alert: 12 issues for 2012, launched by Deloitte.
'The initial response that many companies had to the 2008 financial crisis was to employ the same strategies that carried them through previous recessions: downsizing staff, reducing operations, and postponing investments until economic conditions returned to normal,' said Omar Fahoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Deloitte in the Middle East.
'However, after more than three years of uncertain economic and market conditions, waiting until conditions return to ‘normal’ isn’t an option. Boards should adjust to the new normal and develop the necessary strategies to help keep their companies competitive in the long-term,' he continued.
According to the report, for companies sitting on sizeable cash reserves, one of the key challenges is determining the best use for the cash they have in hand. 'Boards should assess the risks of protecting that cash,' added Fahoum. 'Given that we are unlikely to return to pre-2008 conditions, organizations may be at risk if they wait longer to reinvest in their infrastructure, people, research and innovation, and acquisitions.'
In a tight talent market, it is particularly important for boards to understand the strategic and risk implications associated with their organizations’ talent management strategies.
'Perhaps now more than ever, businesses absolutely cannot lose sight of their top talent,' added Fahoum. 'However, developing and retaining talent is increasingly difficult when the organization itself isn’t growing enough to create sufficient opportunities for people to build their management and leadership skills.'
Given the continued volatility in the markets, boards will need to continue to be vigilant about the risks that exist in the marketplace. However, one of the questions raised by Directors’ Alert is whether 'risk is now over-dominating boardroom discussions.'
According to Fahoum, 'Boards that once focused too exclusively on the upside of an opportunity may have since adopted a highly intensive risk focus that may cause them to see only the downside of risks, leading to a risk paralysis—being afraid to act on an opportunity that would create value for the organization today.'
In response, organizations should develop a risk intelligent culture that fosters 'smart' risk-related decision-making, in which the organization would determine how much risk it is willing to take on and how those risks will be managed and mitigated so the organization both preserves and creates value.
Among the other issues covered in Directors’ Alert: 12 issues for 2012 are: boards’ strategic role in operational management, building sustainability into organizational strategy, managing and complying with the next wave of regulation, transparency in corporate governance, and meeting the demands of an expanding constituency base.
About Directors’ Alert: 12 issues for 2012
Directors’ Alert: 12 issues for 2012 offers insights from governance specialists from Deloitte member firms around the globe—Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. These specialists have provided local and international perspectives on these and other top boardroom priorities within the context of today’s uncertain business environment.
Each article includes questions that directors may ask to further explore the issues with their own boards. In addition, articles are supported with tools and resources so directors can “dig deeper” to broaden their understanding of the issues and improve their board’s effectiveness in dealing with them.
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.
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About Deloitte & Touche (M.E.):
Deloitte & Touche (M.E.) is a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) and is the first Arab professional services firm established in the Middle East region with uninterrupted presence for over 85 years.
Deloitte is among the region’s leading professional services firms, providing audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services through 26 offices in 15 countries with over 2,500 partners, directors and staff. It is a Tier 1 Tax advisor in the GCC region (International Tax Review World Tax 2010, 2011 and 2012 Rankings) and was recognized as the 2010 Best Consulting Firm of the Year in the Complinet GCC Compliance Awards.
In 2011, the firm received the Middle East Training & Development Excellence Award by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).