Going global key to business success: KPMG official Rising complexity poses challenge, says Fakhro

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 17: “Life is becoming all the more complex”, said Jamal Mohamed Fakhro, Managing Partner KPMG Bahrain & Qatar, while discussing the changes in the business environment following the economic crisis at a public lecture hosted by College of Business & Economics at American University of Kuwait, Sunday evening. Shedding light on aspects of accounting, auditioning, and finance in the corporate environs, he exclaimed that the matter was important simply because it pertains to the future and impact every single business all over the world. Fakhro is the chairman of KPMG’s Middle East and South Asia sub-region and the managing partner of KPMG’s Qatar and Bahrain practices.

He is also a board member of KPMG Europe. He has extensive regional experience in audit and accounting, particularly in financial services. He is a key advisor for several large insurance, government sector, banking and finance services organizations and has a special interest in corporate governance issues.
He shared that at KPMG, “Two years ago, we started to re think our strategy. We selected 2000 CFOs and CEOs from all over the world that included some of our major clients in audit, tax and advisory and some individuals who are not our clients. Among the questions we asked them at the time was — What is the most important challenge facing your business, now and in the coming years?”

From the many responses, he summarized that life and business is now rife with complexities, “Ten years ago, it was easier to do business than it is today. Complexity comes in from every direction whether it is attracting the right employees or when considering the role of regulators and political issues, etc.” Businesses all over the world are interested in knowing how they can achieve growth, attract the right people, expand with new ventures and new investments. For this, businesses are looking for experts. “Because of the complexities of doing business today, we are looking for specialized people and experts from various fields. Companies need gurus who understand and can deal with complexity.”
As such the new generation of workers needs to have supplementary degrees that can accentuate their base and respond to clients and employers of tomorrow. “Do not assume that with just the first degree, you will be able to be employed in the coming market because you are not experts. You are not specialized,” he said.
He also shared that there has been a clear shift in focus from local to global environments, “A Kuwaiti company’s future today is in investing outside of Kuwait and not just within the country.” With globalisation and the subsequent removal of boundaries, he affirmed that a successful business is one with a global mindset.

Businesses are now in the market for forward thinking people, he remarked. “Businesses want to know what is going to happen in the coming five and ten years, what changes to expect in emerging markets, which lines of business to invest in and which to avoid, etc.” 
With rising complexity comes the added challenge of adding value. “The game has changed”, he exclaimed, adding that today it is expected that audits must also add value to firms in terms recommendations, improving controls etc.
“What you are studying about audit and accounting today will change by the time you graduate and change on a yearly basis. You have to be ready for that. What you are doing is just putting a base to your knowledge”, he told the students gathered in the auditorium.
He highlighted other factors that bear major implications to businesses in the future such as regulations, managing risk and the changing role of corporate governance. “Risk management has no limit. In everything we do, there is risk involved. But it is important that we through our knowledge and experience know how to manage that risk.”

He stressed that a major swing could be observed in corporate governance and role of the board of directors, “In the past, in our part of the world, people would run to be part of board members to enjoy reputation, power and remuneration. Today, to find somebody who will sit on the board of a public company is not very easy because of the amount of responsibilities on the board members and management.”
Today, major changes include evaluations on the capabilities of the board members and an increasing number of subcommittees as well as corporate governance codes that suggest that the chairman of the company should not be a major shareholder and should be an independent party.
“The world of yesterday is totally different from the world of tomorrow. But do not be depressed, instead be challenged for the future,” he concluded.

By Cinatra Fernandes - Arab Times Staff

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