Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Expert highlights 10 major challenges for UAE and Middle East businesses in 2011




UAE, 15 March 2011: Bob Hirth, Executive Vice President and Global Internal Audit Leader of Protiviti, the global business consulting and internal audit firm, said the number one challenge for  Middle East businesses in 2011 is managing through the economic recovery and  finding new sources of growth. This was one of a list of ten major challenges identified for the coming year highlighted during a corporate seminar in Abu Dhabi last week.

The seminar, which was organized by Protiviti Member Firm for the Middle East Region, was attended by representatives from UAE’s leading companies and organizations, including a number of board and audit committee members, chief executive officers, chief internal auditors, chief risk officers, chief financial officers and chief technology mangers.

In his presentation Hirth highlighted “Protiviti’s Perspectives on Business Challenges and the Board/Audit Committee Agenda for 2011”.  He noted that monitoring the competitive environment, adjusting the strategic direction of the company accordingly and adapting to the challenging realities of continued globalization are also main challenges for Middle East business this year. In addition he thinks that maintaining morale, retaining top talent, building customer loyalty, protecting sensitive and private information, and managing it all in an environment of increased regulatory oversight will also demand attention from top management.

He said: “in addition to the above, mangers should also understand and respond to the changing risk portfolio, assess capital and manage cash-flow effectively and benefit from the data and information available in the organization to make timely and informed decisions”.  He added: “we at Protiviti have the best solutions to overcome these challenges”. 

Hirth provided interesting observations and ideas for consideration by businesses and their boards and audit committees. He mentioned that the past few years had been unforgettable and that new issues and even emerging trends will make 2011 a year in which  to act cautiously, yet still act decisively in order to create value, grow revenues and control the business. Organizations now have to operate in a world that is vastly different from two years ago, and in an environment which continues to be challenging. Key areas of concern and opportunities highlighted by Bob were based in large part on Protiviti’s experiences with audit committees and board of directors from around the world and the knowledge and deep expertise that resides within the firm.

Summarizing Protiviti recommendations and guidelines to make 2011 a successful year, Hirth said: “Board/Audit Committees should ensure that their company’s risk assessment methodology maximizes its value and use. We advise that they update the company’s risk profile to reflect changing conditions. At the same time, managers should evaluate competence and capabilities of the finance organization and internal audit, keep a sharp eye on the overall control environment as the company seeks new sources of growth and pay attention to financial communications quality”.

Hirth concluded recommending that companies closely monitor and prepare for the changing political and economic environment, understand the implications of changing laws and regulations, and pay attention to new technological developments and trends.





Ten Major Challenges Facing Businesses



The 2011 Mandate for Board/Audit Committees





1.
Managing through the economic recovery with emphasis on finding new sources of growth

1.
Ensure that the company’s risk assessment methodology maximizes its value and use





2.
Monitoring the competitive environment and adjusting the strategic direction of the company accordingly

2.
Update the company’s risk profile to reflect changing conditions





3.
Adjusting to the challenging realities of continued globalization

3.
Clarify the committee’s contribution to the board’s risk oversight process





4.
Maintaining morale and retaining top talent

4.
Evaluating competence and capabilities of the finance organization and internal audit





5.
Building customer loyalty

5.
Keep a sharp eye on the overall control environment as the company seeks new sources of growth





6.
Protecting sensitive and private information

6.
Pay attention to financial communications quality





7.
Managing in an environment of increased regulatory oversight

7.
Closely monitor and prepare for the changing political and economic environment





8.
Understanding and responding to a changing risk profile

8.
Understand the implications of changing laws and regulations





9.
Assessing capital and managing cash flow effectively

9.
Pay attention to new technological developments and trends





10.
Effectively using the data and information available in the organization to make timely and informed decisions

10.
Utilize external auditors effectively



About Protiviti Member Firm for the Middle East Region:

Protiviti’s Member Firm for the Middle East Region is a leading provider of internal audit, consulting, risk, governance, corporate finance, technology and transaction services in the Middle East Region. The firm brings “Powerful Insights” and a “Proven Delivery” model to meet clients’ regional and global business needs.

Protiviti (www.protiviti.com) is a global business consulting and internal audit firm. The firm helps solve problems in finance and transactions, operations, technology, litigation, governance, risk, and compliance. Protiviti's highly trained, results-oriented professionals provide a unique perspective on a wide range of critical business issues for clients in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

Protiviti has 60 locations worldwide and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE: RHI). Founded in 1948, Robert Half International is a member of the S&P 500 index.

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