Going the distance: Insights from the 2017 Audit Committee Issues Conference
Going the distance: Insights from the 2017 Audit Committee Issues Conference

Going the distance Insights from the 2017 Audit Committee Issues Conference

Highlights and insights from the 2017 Audit Committee Issues Conference in Boca Raton include Going the Distance, a recap of the conference’s main sessions, including keynote addresses and panel discussions, and Risk Just Got Riskier, detailing key points shared by directors in the accompanying peer exchanges.

Companies will need to navigate unprecedented levels of uncertainty in 2017 as they face the prospects of dramatic U.S. policy changes under the Trump administration, the UK’s exit from the European Union, as well as global economic and political uncertainty. This economic and political volatility—together with technology advances, business model disruption, and heightened expectations of investors and other stakeholders—will challenge companies and their boards to manage key risks, innovate and capitalize on new opportunities, and execute on strategy. For audit committees, financial reporting, compliance, and the risk and internal control environment will continue to be put to the test in 2017.

Audit committee members from around the world joined KPMG business leaders in Boca Raton at the 13th annual Audit Committee Issues Conference on Jan. 9–10 to discuss the governance challenges facing boards in the year ahead. Keynote speakers and panel members discussed a range of issues, including the shifting geopolitical and economic landscape; the increasing focus on board composition; the evolving role of the corporation in society; developments in cybersecurity; and the era of shared governance. Breakout sessions focused on a range of issues that are top of mind for audit committees, including key financial reporting risks; audit quality; crisis readiness and response; and shareholder engagement.

Attendees also participated in small group peer-exchange conversations to discuss how their audit committees are addressing these and other issues that are at the top of their agendas today.

Conference takeaways detailed in the report include:

  • It is no longer business as usual. The Trump administration’s “America first” approach is dramatically shifting the geopolitical and economic landscape.
  • Higher expectations for board performance have made board composition a key area of focus. Achieving and maintaining a high-performing board requires continuous improvement of overall board composition, individual director skills, and board processes.
  • The role of the corporation in society is now on the agendas of leading boards. Corporations are forging a tighter connection between “social capital” and bottom-line performance.
  • A new paradigm of corporate governance is here. Shareholder engagement is essential, and a long-term perspective on corporate performance is expected.
  • The boardroom discussion about cyber risk is changing. Boards are helping to elevate the cyber-risk mindset to an enterprise level to manage the potential operational, reputational, and strategic impacts of a major breach.

Discussions focused on four broad areas:

  • Policy initiatives that may have the greatest impact (positive or negative) on the business
  • How management is assessing the potential impact of these initiatives on strategy, operations, and growth
  • How executives represent the company position on policy initiatives in communications with employees and stakeholders
  • An investor and stakeholder focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues in light of potential regulatory rollbacks

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Governance challenges and priorities driving the 2017 agenda

Insights from the 13th Annual Audit Committee Issues Conference