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News round-up: November 2020

Benefits of bribery: new study separates fact from fiction

Bribery pays dividends but some common assumptions about how it works are wrong.

According to research by academics at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School and universities in Hong Kong, there is a direct positive correlation between bribery and share price – US$1 in bribes is linked to US$6 to US$9 increases in the value of companies that pay bribes.

However, the paper, entitled “What determines the return to bribery? Evidence from corruption cases worldwide”, did not find a link between the size of a bribe and the size of the benefit received by the company offering the bribe, or that corrupt officials asked for more money from bigger companies or for more complex transactions. Nor did it find that explicit anti-corruption regimes necessarily reduce the value of the benefits firms gain from their bribes.

The research, which looked at 200 bribery cases over four decades in 60 countries, did find that the net benefits of bribery tend to be smaller in countries that have mandated more public disclosure of politicians’ sources of income.

Businesses lack climate risk plans

Climate risks are being discussed in Britain’s boardrooms, but the majority of businesses have yet to implement a clear plan, according to new research from professional services firm KPMG.

When asked if climate change was a top priority, 82 per cent of respondents said it was already being actively discussed, or that it was on their boardroom agenda. However, when asked if they had a clear view of the risks ahead and how to tackle them, only eight per cent of businesses reported having a fully fledged plan, while 89 per cent said they were still in early stage discussions, and three per cent admitted “not at all”. 

Protiviti updates resilience guidance

Risk management consultancy Protiviti has completed a major update to its Guide to Business Continuity & Resilience to include lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The updated guidance includes answers to 50 new critical questions that business leaders must ask to ensure they will be ready to respond when disaster strikes.

The questions are grouped under a range of topic headings, including COVID-19 and large-scale disasters; business continuity management (BCM) basics; IT disaster recovery; third-party risk management and business continuity management; and regulations, standards and guidance. 

GRC leaders lack confidence in the security data they provide to regulators

Senior risk and compliance professionals in financial services companies lack confidence in the security data they are providing to regulators, according to software vendor Panaseer’s 2020 GRC Peer Report”.

Results from a global survey of over 200 leaders in governance, risk and compliance (GRC) roles found that the top challenges they encounter in fulfilling regulator requests are accessing accurate data, dealing with the number of report requests, and the length of time it takes to get information from the security team. Only 41 per cent of those surveyed said they felt “very confident” that they can fulfil the security-related requests of a regulator in a timely manner. Just 27.5 per cent said they were “very satisfied” that their organisations’ security reports align with regulatory compliance needs. 

Aon survey highlights workforce resilience, agility and diversity

Insurance and risk management firm Aon has released the results of a global pulse survey focused on how companies are rethinking their people strategies in response to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The study, calledAccelerating Workforce Agility and Resilience”, found that 71 per cent of survey respondents globally said their companies are actively investing in tools and technologies to support remote collaboration.

On a global basis, 35 per cent of survey respondents indicated that their companies have changed, or are actively considering changing, their time-off policies in response to the pandemic. Among these companies, 32 per cent created additional emergency paid leave policies beyond what is required by law to cover carers, illness or quarantining in 2020. Another ten per cent of companies created policies covering both 2020 and 2021, and five per cent created permanent policies.

Respondents also ranked the ability to attract and retain diverse employees and create an inclusive culture among the most important elements of building and maintaining an agile workforce. 

UK businesses “unprepared”for Brexit risks

Business group the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has published the results of a survey which found that only 38 per cent of companies surveyed have carried out a Brexit risk assessment in 2020, compared to 57 per cent in 2019.

The research also found that 51 per cent of firms surveyed had not taken any of the steps recommended by the government to prepare for changes in the movement of goods between the UK and the EU. This includes fundamental operating issues for trading businesses such as checking the need for customs declarations and assessing the possible impact of changes on customers and suppliers.

The BCC says that businesses have a lack of information with which to plan and that some are suffering from “deadline fatigue”. 

OECD finds fear of enforcement drives fight against corruption

Fear of enforcement and the consequential reputational fallout of an enforcement action are the top drivers for developing an anti-corruption compliance programme, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Nine out of ten companies questioned said that a desire to protect the company’s reputation was a “significant” or “very significant” factor, while 81 per cent said avoiding prosecution or other legal action was a “significant” or “very significant” factor in pushing for compliance.

Called Corporate Anti-Corruption Compliance Drivers, Mechanisms, and Ideas for Change, the OECD report presents an analysis of why companies develop anti-corruption compliance programmes in the first place, the specific corruption risks they face, and what steps they can take to guard against these risks. It also explores what resources companies use to develop their anti-corruption compliance programmes and the challenges they face when establishing them. 

Lessons from COVID-19 for crisis management

A recently released report by insurance and risk management association Airmic in association with risk experts Control Risks highlights some of the lessons that organisations have learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The paper, called New challenges, new lessons”, says that the pandemic has highlighted the siloed approach to business continuity management and crisis management that currently exists in too many organisations.

It also identifies a significant lack of connection between strategic risk and operational resilience and says that business continuity management and crisis management should be aligned to an organisation’s strategic direction.

The report emphasises four core elements to ensure operational resilience: leadership, data, people and operating models. 

In memoriam: Sarah Blackburn

It is with sadness that we note that Sarah Blackburn, a passionate advocate of the internal audit profession, died unexpectedly over the summer. Blackburn served as president and chair of the Council of Directors of the Chartered IIA in 2009-10 and was the guiding force overseeing the institute’s transition to chartered status in October 2010. She was a member of IIA Global’s Board of Directors from 2012-16 and on the Executive Committee in 2015-16. Most recently, she was a member of IIA Global’s Professional Responsibilities and Ethics Committee. She will be missed. 

This article was first published in November 2020.