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Market Risks the Key Factor That Keeps Board Members Up at Night — Survey

2 Dec 2019

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 2): The biggest factor concerning Malaysian board members is market risks, a new survey revealed.

In an inaugural survey of 120 directors across 100 companies launched by the Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia (ICDM) today, 21% of respondents said the main factor that keeps board directors up at night is market risks.

“Boards are most worried about hits that organisations may take due to sudden changes in equity, currency, inflation, interest rates and others,” the survey highlighted.

On that note, respondents feel they should be focusing more on long-term plans and strategies.

They said their boards currently spend 12% of their time on long-term planning, whereas they feel they should be spending 15%.

On the other hand, about 15% of their time is spent on business performance whereas they prefer to spend only 10%.

Innovation strategy and talent issues are also not discussed enough at the board, with respondents saying they should spend at least 9% on both instead of 3% and 4% respectively.

These findings were presented as part of a new survey titled ‘Bold 3.0: Future-Fluent Board Leadership in Asia’, produced in partnership with the Centre for Creative Leadership and Institute of Directors from Malaysia, Singapore, India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

ICDM president and chief executive officer Michele Kythe Lim said: “Looking at these results, what it tells you is that a lot of these companies are focused on the financials and risks, as every quarter they (listed companies) have to announce their results. But if you look at the more developed markets, it’s starting to change.”

“That’s why there’s a greater awareness to focus on other things, because a lot times disruption is coming and you don’t see it if you just focus on the short term,” she told a press conference after launching ICDM’s new office here.

Looking ahead, 70% of respondents in the survey said skills diversity is a key change Malaysian boards will witness in the future, followed by gender diversity (59%).

To be future ready, 20% of respondents say they are talking about being future ready, and 16% say they have frequent interaction between board and management.

Lim said when recruiting new directors, boards are now moving away from selecting those with traditional skillsets and are looking to other skillsets that will be beneficial for the future. These include being experts on innovation, sustainability, and technology.