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KPMG’s Board Leadership Center (BLC) engages with board directors, business leaders, and the CxO’s working closely with them.

It’s a space to articulate and share boardroom challenges, offering practical thought leadership and other actionable board-ready resources in key areas – including strategy, ESG, culture, talent, diversity, risk and compliance, digitalization, cybersecurity, geopolitical influence, and other topics that are top of mind for directors.

The BLC offers a powerful holistic program to help directors deepen their engagement on the critical challenges shaping business and board agendas. It brings together all of our board-facing resources in one place, providing you with:  

  • An annual update on the top priorities on the board agenda and on the audit committee agenda;
  • Relevant insights and thought leadership on those priorities;
  • A comprehensive schedule of events with simple registration and opportunities for peer-to-peer networking; and
  • Access to the Board Leadership Center network and community across the globe.

 

The Board Leadership Center is open to all non-executive and executive directors, and those working closely with them, including CEOs, CFOs, CROs, and Heads of Internal Audit.

Join now to stay up-to-date on our latest news, publications, and events.

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On the board agenda

Drawing on insights from our conversations with board directors around the world, each year the Board Leadership Center publishes our top priorities for boards. This year, we highlight twelve priority issues for boards to consider as they approach and execute their 2020 agendas.

The first time adoption of the 2020 Code on Corporate Governance  (the ‘Code’) as of 1 January 2020, requires board attention across governance areas. To guide you in this respect, our full publication includes references to relevant key (new) elements of the new Code, where applicable.

The environmental emergency

Caring for the environment together

Institutional investors have long emphasized their expectations for companies to explain how they are addressing environmental issues in the context of long-term value creation. While the volume of disclosure has certainly increased, action has been limited. Alongside the need for long-term planning and retrospective reporting, the importance of short-term action must not be underestimated.

Balancing the interests of society at large

Balancing rocks

Mounting societal issues – such as territorialism, income and taxation inequality, diversity and inclusion – coupled with poor government solutions, continue to heighten expectations for companies themselves to address the gaps and rethink their responsibility to society – changing the conversation from ‘Is it legal?’ to ‘Is it right?’ Companies who fail to do so will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders, as this is an essential component for sustainable long-term growth.

Emerging disruptive technology

Fiber optic technology

In our 2019 Global Audit Committee Pulse Survey, 80% of board members surveyed indicated that their companies’ risk management processes are unable to identify emerging and disruptive risks. As digital technologies such as AI, data-analytics and Blockchain continue to advance in capability and in application, their impact on risk assessment – both in terms of disruption as well as protection solutions – becomes as increasingly important as it is a complex multi-faceted challenge.

Cyber security and data governance

Binary computer coding

Boards have made strides in monitoring management’s cyber security effectiveness. However, the growing sophistication and creativity of cyber attackers means that cyber security continues to be a key challenge. Boards are also responsible for oversight of the company’s compliance with industry-specific privacy laws and the company’s policies regarding data ethics – including managing the balance between what is legal, and what is right (or expected).

(Geo)political turmoil

Considering the globe

Boards need to help management reassess the company’s processes for identifying the risks and opportunities posed by continuing political struggles, geopolitical disruption and their impact on the company’s long-term strategy. They also need to help the company test its strategic assumptions and keep sight of how the big picture is changing: connecting dots, thinking differently, and staying agile and alert to what’s happening in the world.

Corporate culture

Signs pointing in different directions

Headlines of sexual harassment, aggressive sales practices, insider trading, and other wrongdoing continue to put corporate culture front and center for stakeholders. Boards themselves are making headlines, with investors, regulators, and others asking, ‘Where was the board?’ Given the critical role that corporate culture plays in driving a company’s performance and reputation, boards are taking a more proactive approach to understanding, shaping, and assessing corporate culture.

Diversity and inclusion

Completing the puzzle of diverse people

The world has arguably changed markedly faster than boards, and the need for relevant experience, diversity and inclusion in the boardroom continues to be front and center for investors, regulators, and other stakeholders in order to address the changing business and risk landscape. Boards must increasingly focus on aligning their own composition with the company’s strategy, both today and with a longer-term view.

Succession planning

Old man looking down behind him

Few board responsibilities are more important than hiring and firing the C-suite – a reality that continues to hit the headlines, particularly if the board is caught flat-footed. The board should also ensure that the company is prepared for any C-level change – planned and unplanned. Formal succession planning for the board is just as fundamental as for C-levels. Robust and formal (contingency) plans are critical in this respect.

Talent plans and pipelines

Lights moving quickly on roads

Having and retaining the right talent – from the top down through the ranks – is increasingly a challenge. Leaders need to identify the new skills and capabilities that will be required in the future. Any talent plan must align with your strategy and future needs. Current employees willing and able to be upskilled and retrained will need to be identified, new talent will need to be attracted, retained and integrated into the business, and new ways of working will need to be developed and formalized.

Remuneration policies for (non-)executives

Looking up at office building

The new Code requires non-executive board members to receive part of their pay in the form of shares in the company. Stock options and performance-related remuneration directly related to the company’s results on their part are not allowed to be granted to non-executive directors. Variable remuneration packages for the C-suite will need to be revisited as well to ‘align the interests of the executives with the sustainable value-creation objectives of the company’.

Shareholder engagement

Connecting people

Shareholder engagement continues to be a priority for companies as institutional investors increasingly hold boards accountable for company performance and demand greater transparency. They continue to challenge the board with tough questions around the broad topics in this agenda as well as specifics around their role in company strategy and risk evaluation, and the findings from their own board assessment.

Crisis readiness and response

Stopping dominos from falling

Even the best-prepared companies will experience a crisis, and companies that respond quickly and effectively tend to weather crises better. In addition to cultural risks, boards are increasingly focused on key operational risks across the extended global organization. They should also ensure that management is weighing a broad spectrum of what-if scenarios – from supply chains and vendor financial health to geopolitical risks and cyber threats.

For more information on these priorities, read our full publication.

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On the audit committee agenda

Prioritizing a heavy audit committee agenda is never easy, and 2020 will be particularly challenging as the audit committee operates against a backdrop of global volatility and economic uncertainty, in a world where investors and stakeholders are becoming increasingly powerful and informed.

Drawing on insights from our conversations with audit committees and board directors in general, we highlight the eight issues that audit committees should keep in mind as they approach and execute their 2020 agendas:

  • Controlling the agenda and reassessing whether the committee has the expertise and time to oversee the risks it has been assigned;
  • Assessing the scope and quality of ESG disclosures, with investors demanding more information and seeking engagement with companies;
  • Regulation will continue to ramp-up and put compliance systems to the test;
  • Focusing on ethics and compliance, as the reputational costs of an ethics or compliance failure are higher than ever;
  • Monitoring corporate reporting and carefully considering the detail provided in those areas of the annual report which are exposed to heightened levels of risk;
  • Reinforcing audit quality and how your audit firm drives sustainable, improved audit quality, including their implementation and use of new technologies;
  • Leveraging the impact of technology – what are the company’s plans to leverage robotics, cloud technologies, artificial intelligence and data analytics to improve efficiencies in the finance function?; and
  • Broadening the benefit of internal audit and helping ensure that internal audit is focused on these key risks and related controls.

 

For more information on these priorities, read our full publication.