Strategy and Risk Oversight in the New Global Volatility

Highlights and Survey Results from the Fall 2015 KPMG Roundtable Series

Disruptions in the oil markets, swings in commodity prices and currencies, interest rate uncertainty, and geopolitical hotspots around the world—not to mention technology developments and government regulation—all point to a new level of global vola­tility and uncertainty impacting corporate business models and strategies.

Indeed, with assumptions about input prices and demand changing rapidly, and with technology advances creating shocks and shifts in the competitive landscape, a key challenge for management teams and boards is to assess the continuing validity of the company’s strategy—particularly the critical assumptions at the core of the strategy—and to calibrate or adjust that strategy as appropriate.

KPMG’s Fall Roundtable Series gathered over 1,200 directors and senior executives across 17 cities to share their views on the board’s role in strategy amid increasing global volatility and uncertainty.

As highlighted at the roundtable series and in recent surveys, the board’s role in strategy is evolving from an “annual review and concur with periodic involvement” to a continual dialogue—evaluating strategy options and challenging fundamental assumptions, monitoring execution and engaging with management on an ongoing basis, and helping to connect strategy, risk, and long-term value creation.

“Today, strategy is discussed at every board meeting and sometimes in between,” said one director.

Key takeaways from the Fall Roundtable include insight on the following:

  • The new global volatility affecting companies and industries differently,
  • The board’s consideration of the company’s strategy process,
  • The company’s ability to calibrate strategy as needed,
  • Clarifying the role of the board with regards to strategy development,
  • And, reconsidering whether the board has the right people and perspectives to assess the strategy.

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