SGV thought leadership on pressing issues faced by chief executives in today’s economic landscape. Articles are published every Monday in the Economy section of the BusinessWorld newspaper.
18 October 2021 Julie Christine O. Mateo

Managing workforce wellness

With global instability and the uncertainty pervading our current situation due to the disruption and volatility caused by COVID-19, employees may be struggling with feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and heightened stress. It becomes more important than ever for leaders to provide clarity and guidance, and to be the calm in the storm.As SGV celebrates well-being month this October, the firm acknowledges the additional challenges and responsibilities in managing mental health concerns in our teams. Though current conditions are far from ideal, we can control how we respond as well as how we connect.Something that can also provide clarity and perspective despite the uncertainty is purpose, which we can turn to as a source of focus and motivation. In SGV, our purpose to nurture leaders and enable businesses for a better Philippines gives us the assurance and confidence that our work — developing people and sustaining economic growth — will positively and meaningfully redound to the country and community.Purpose, however, is a collective journey for an organization and one that requires long-term planning and implementation. For organizations who already have a clearly defined purpose, ensuring that it continues to resonate with their people is crucial to sustaining their wellbeing. In terms of concrete, actionable steps in the near-term, the following key considerations can impact how we empathize with colleagues, teams and clients in a purposeful way and help foster a better working environment, remote or otherwise.RECOGNIZING AND ADDRESSING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUESThe pandemic drives to trigger global anxiety and fear, placing our minds in a constant threatened state while we deal with the unknown nature of the future. It becomes imperative to learn about the mental health continuum and normalize conversations about mental health within the team. Leaders have the responsibility of creating a safe space to discuss emotions and create a supportive workplace, but — and this is important — not to offer diagnosis or counselling. These should be given to mental health professionals to address.Moreover, providing support does not mean trying to fix the situation — connect by simply listening to their anxiety and fears and expressing empathy for how team members are feeling. Identify triggers for feelings of anxiety, and discuss how these can be reduced or managed. Help identify the kind of support they would need, and connect them to appropriate resources or suggest talking to a doctor or counsellor to help. Recognizing the importance of this, we in SGV have engaged a professional mental health platform to provide ongoing support to all our people.MANAGING AND SUPPORTING REMOTE TEAMSLeaders have the role of providing clarity and providing the most important task for the team to focus on, especially now that most teams are working remotely. This can be done by connecting regularly to communicate business priorities and keep on track through huddles that discuss incoming activities.Keeping connected through conducting regular check-ins can also determine how teams are handling the stress. Leaders must take note of any changes in behavior from their team members and take action to support them. Taking the time to talk with those who may be struggling and understanding their unique situations can make a difference in helping someone feel less alone. Early intervention can also help address issues before they escalate.In addition, acknowledge and celebrate small and big achievements, and recognize efforts frequently. Committing one activity on the calendar that is non-work related also helps facilitate social connection and balance work and recreation.MAINTAINING WELLBEINGTo provide sustainable support to someone in a team who may be feeling overwhelmed, leaders must first take positive actions to care for their own wellbeing. Aside from connecting regularly and providing a safe space for team members, leaders must familiarize themselves with available wellbeing programs and services aimed at addressing their teams’ physical, emotional and financial wellbeing.Focusing on relationships through short but frequent check-ins can help employees feel appreciated. Personal gestures such as celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and similar milestones creates a reinforced culture of positivity during these turbulent times, helping us focus on the good no matter how big or small.CREATING A HEALTHIER REMOTE WORKPLACEIt is already challenging to balance the demands of multiple engagements, and doing so with the wellbeing needs of a team can be even more daunting. Stress related to work is something everyone experiences — leaders and teams alike — and can even be useful by improving alertness and performance in short bursts. However, prolonged work stress can lead to burnout, which affects all aspects of wellbeing: physical, mental, emotional, social and financial health. Prolonged burnout can lead to real implications to the business such as loss of productivity and turnover, even manifesting into serious health consequences.There are some key principles that leaders can focus on to address the conditions that lead to burnout, and mitigate them to help their team members and themselves. As mentioned previously, it is important for leaders to look after their own wellbeing and promote good practices to their team members. This can be achieved through physical fitness, proper sleep and nutrition as well as finding time to disconnect and valuing contribution over just being busy. Ways to proactively disconnect include spending time on hobbies or creating a shutdown ritual, where employees can adapt their routine of leaving the office in their remote work spaces and even schedule a virtual commute.At the same time, avoid contributing to team member burnout. Set realistic deadlines and try to keep away from requiring work to be performed excessively outside of reasonable work hours as much as possible. Balance the workload of each team member and ensure these are appropriate and shared when necessary. Be clear regarding expectations and provide sufficient task ownership to avoid micromanaging. Be prepared to lend a hand with the completion of work when deadlines loom and team members feel overwhelmed. While this, of course, is easier said than done given the increasing demands on our people, it is still something that leaders will need to proactively manageREFRAMING FOR RESILIENCEManaging the psychological as well as physical safety of work teams is more important than ever, with uncertainty still prevalent. Though the future is outside of our control, leaders can help their teams reframe their responses and build resilience by encouraging a growth mindset and providing a clear vision of the future beyond the pandemic. By taking to heart the power of purpose to address uncertainty and taking steps to manage our own responses and providing the necessary guidance and resources, we can tackle external challenges in a more positive way. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Julie Christine O. Mateo is the talent leader and purpose council co-chair of SGV & Co

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11 October 2021 Benjamin N. Villacorte

Paving the path toward decarbonization

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report delivered facts about widespread, extreme climate change, together with the warning that the rise in temperatures can exceed 1.5°C to 2°C in the next few decades if stakeholders don’t act now. The reminder to place the utmost importance on urgent, large-scale reduction of greenhouse gas emissions came months before the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) addresses the issue on a global scale.The IPCC report and the upcoming COP26 emphasize further the need for organizations to prioritize decarbonization. Increased investor and regulatory pressure have pushed organizations to heed prior wake-up calls and respond by broadening their climate disclosures, specifically by adopting the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework. This is reflected in EY’s 2021 Global Climate Risk Disclosure Barometer, which reveals that coverage of the TCFD recommendations has reached an average of 70% for more than 1,100 companies across 42 jurisdictions. However, higher coverage scores continue to be linked to climate-mature markets, highlighting inconsistencies among jurisdictions and a significant gap for low-performing markets to bridge.While TCFD reporting has made progress in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the region also logs the lowest score at 19%. In the Philippines, adoption of international reporting frameworks is underway but is still in the nascent stages, mainly driven by the move of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require publicly-listed companies (PLCs) to report on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts through Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 4 Series of 2019. Similarly, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) proposed guidelines to encourage banks to integrate sustainability principles and ESG risks into their strategies and operations.Intensifying climate reporting, though, should go beyond compliance and shift to accurately mapping out risks and opportunities so companies can adopt appropriate risk management strategies, metrics, and targets that significantly contribute to the global efforts of mitigating the adverse impact of climate change. Key findings from the EY Barometer discussed below shed light on what areas to focus on.QUALITY TRAILS BEHIND COVERAGE IN TCFD REPORTINGThe EY Barometer evaluated companies based on the number of recommended disclosures made (“coverage”) and the extent or detail of each disclosure (“quality”). Despite the advances in the coverage of TCFD elements, the quality of disclosures of the assessed companies was deemed unimpressive. Overall performance peaked at 42%. Of the almost 50% achieving 100% coverage, only three companies received a score of 100% quality.EY data point to better reporting on governance, targets and metrics, while risks and opportunities may have been relegated to a “tick box” item for now. These results indicate either of two things: that organizations feel more comfortable disclosing more of what they are trying to achieve and less of how they intend to get there, or that there may be a trend for companies looking to set aspirational targets in advance of creating a clear pathway to achieving their goals.Still, it’s worth noting that high performers in disclosure quality with long-standing Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) reporting practices have leveraged the alignment of the CDP questionnaire with some TCFD elements.SCENARIO MODELING CAPABILITY STILL IN ITS EARLY STAGESSectors with the most significant exposure to transition risk scored higher for their disclosures. These include financial services, with banks in the lead. One effective way to assess the risks and seize opportunities related to climate change is through scenario analysis, and it is great to see that many banks have taken the initiative to use it in stress testing their assets, products, and services.Scenario analysis is a critical element of the TCFD framework as it helps institutions evaluate future climate-related events, develop better strategies, and build compelling models, even if at this point, many companies are still struggling to implement it. This challenge prevents them from fully understanding the size and time frame of physical and transition risks. Climate scenarios are also necessary for financial institutions to get a full picture of the impact of their portfolio’s carbon emissions, including value chain activities.TURNING THEORY INTO TANGIBLE, ACTIONABLE STRATEGIESWithout enhancing scenario analysis, it can prove difficult to assess risks and opportunities accurately. In turn, this affects the attainment of goals, development of strategies, and creation of long-term business value.The EY study shows that only 41% of companies have conducted scenario analysis — a number that shows there’s room for improvement. Among the scenarios referenced, Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 was the most common, followed by RCP 2.6. Furthermore, an estimated 60% of these companies have referenced physical or transition risk or both, with 55% mentioning physical risks.As the adverse effects of climate change become more evident, many organizations recognize the importance of preparing for physical risks without waiting for an economy-wide transition. However, not all organizations have the internal capability to create an illustrative path toward net-zero. So what can be done?According to the EY report, companies can start by reporting on risks and opportunities around climate change, and clearly identifying climate-related risks when embedding these in the enterprise risk management system. They need to then assess business transformation levers to respond to climate risks and opportunities. Finally, they must publicly commit to decarbonization and implement strategies to reduce carbon emissions within their business operations and supply chain.ACCELERATING DECARBONIZATION IN THE PHILIPPINESThe EY report shows that while there is some advancement towards TCFD reporting, more comprehensive and concrete action is required to sufficiently address the climate crisis, especially in the case of the ASEAN region and the Philippines in particular, who are playing catch-up to global initiatives.Globally, central banks, exchanges, and other regulators have provided guidance to support more sophisticated sustainability reporting. In the Philippines, stricter requirements can be introduced sooner as the country submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in accordance with the partnership arranged under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement. As such, putting off alignment with decarbonization targets can be counterproductive, leaving businesses with disclosures that display their climate change inaction in full public view.The proper time to act is now. Recognizing climate risks and opportunities as material to business growth should be a top priority for organizations. This decision will facilitate the development of holistic decarbonization strategies to address the call for business transformation amidst the looming climate crisis and pave the path to a net-zero world.This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Benjamin N. Villacorte is a partner from the Climate Change and Sustainability Services team of SGV & Co.

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04 October 2021 Aaron C. Escartin

Closing books in the new normal

As the world continues to adjust to the changes wrought by COVID-19, previously small annoyances in closing the books of a company can turn into significant hurdles. While it was sometimes already challenging to close books pre-pandemic, the difficulty of the task is now compounded by new stressors such as strained technology resources, a distributed workforce, and even personal concerns regarding health and finances.This article will discuss some strategies on how CFOs, controllers and their teams can communicate effectively and drive clear priorities during a virtual close. Based on the EY article How to manage your close process virtually, these considerations aim to help companies close books effectively as well as position them for post-pandemic recovery. This will apply whether company operations are manual or are more advanced.ESTABLISHING A STRONGER TEAM DYNAMICEven in the best of times, effective collaboration can be a hurdle in itself. A large, multinational organization may have to deal with thousands of users across multiple geographies who need to be aligned in terms of processes and deliverables. While there may be one or two people who specialize in certain tasks, teams of people should ideally be equipped with vital knowledge to pick up on each other’s work in the event someone is unavailable.Given today’s circumstances, however, establishing new and dynamic technology-empowered team norms becomes even more critical. Teams are encouraged to conduct more meetings and utilize video software for key agendas to establish a more personal connection. The team also needs to look for new methods and solutions that promote closer remote collaboration since e-mails are often quite a limited tool — in fact, there is a constant risk of e-mails being overlooked or for a user to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of e-mails we now receive on a daily basis. In addition, teams should consider reviewing controls that require two-person coordination before the close. Determine whether remote working demands have changed these controls, and ensure they are properly documented to support eventual audits.It will also be vital to communicate with management early regarding how reporting and reviews will be handled. Management reporting recipients need to be briefed before making any changes. As an example, it should be determined how trial balance and preliminary P&L reviews will be conducted remotely to properly manage expectations. A plan has to be in place for report distribution as well as reviews related to the close.UTILIZING EFFECTIVE TEAM SOFTWAREInstead of relying mostly on meetings to understand statuses and involvement in the process, a team can use dashboards and standard reports with read-only access for stakeholders and auditors for visibility. Teaming software allow simultaneous collaboration on the same task or reconciliation, the flexibility of which is especially useful in the current working environment. Features that enable users to attach documentation and access work that has been accomplished in previous periods will allow new or even temporary workers to gain the necessary information from one place, establishing better continuity even if one or two key team members are unable to work.Effective teaming software solutions can also facilitate communications and establish one source of truth. By having one place where all files are consolidated and can be securely transferred, employees will not need to search in multiple sources and save time. An efficient software solution will allow teams to create business rules that can help operationalize high-risk priority accounts with frequency information and due dates. Another function that should be prioritized is the ability to set review levels and frequencies based on criteria defined by the business. Some accounts may have less volatility than others and will not need to be reviewed monthly, while others may be zero-balance accounts that can be certified automatically.An efficient task management solution can handle the documentation, support and sign off of any activity, while the best task management software can set up recurring tasks for certification or tracking.UNDERSTANDING RISKS AND SETTING PRIORITIESAfter establishing clearer ways to team up in the new normal, the next point of focus is identifying the most high-risk items and addressing them. With strained resources and issues in technology, such as maintenance and cybersecurity, arising given our current circumstances, understanding and prioritizing risks accordingly will help keep the focus of the team from fraying or latching onto low-impact concerns. Teams must learn what they can from external and internal auditors as well as how their controls can identify the high-risk items that need to be prioritized.It is recommended to scrutinize how overall activities relate to broader milestones in the close — for example, they can center on closing sub-ledgers and the general ledger. All the dependencies such as entity-level processes that are dependent on local steps will need to be considered. Risks such as reconciliations, journal entries and tasks like controls must have their risks assessed.Teams can also reduce activities by evaluating and enforcing materiality thresholds, with the addition of appointing a point person to monitor the close checklist to serve as a secondary control in ensuring the team does not miss any steps. After reviewing the virtual close plan with auditors and soliciting their input, any extra steps can be determined to further support the audit process.OPTIMIZING TODAY WORK BETTER TOMORROWThough the immediate goal is to close the books, these considerations can pave the way for companies and teams to become more optimized. By learning how to address and manage risks and pain points under the unprecedented challenges to be found in our current environment, teams can develop the necessary agility, resiliency and flexibility to meet future disruptions and better position themselves to grow and thrive in a business world beyond the pandemic. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Aaron C. Escartin is a Tax Partner of SGV & Co.

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27 September 2021 Betheena C. Dizon

Taxing the famous and followed: The broader impact of the BIR’s new regulations

Social media spawned the rise of popular and highly followed content creators — ordinary individuals outside of show business who become celebrities overnight by creating viral content through their digital platforms. Realizing the advertising potential of these content providers, also known as “social media influencers,” more and more companies partner with them to spread and maintain awareness of their brands and products among the influencers’ millions of followers.This became even more apparent during the lockdowns resulting from the pandemic, when an increasing number of people plugged into the online world to stay connected.The growing business of social media influencing caught the attention of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which recently released Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 97-2021 to clarify the taxation of any income received by social media influencers.INFLUENCERS LIABLE FOR INCOME TAX AND VALUE-ADDED TAX OR PERCENTAGE TAXThe BIR emphasized that social media influencers are liable for Income Tax and Value-Added tax or Percentage Tax unless the law clearly provides for an exemption. Moreover, social media influencers are required to register as taxpayers with the BIR, maintain books of account, and file the appropriate tax returns.BROADENING ENFORCEMENT OF TAXPAYER COMPLIANCEThis move by the BIR appears to be consistent with its renewed drive to enforce tax compliance. The recent focus on social media influencers appears to be one of the programs to remind the sector of their tax obligations, starting with the emphasis that earnings from social media platforms, are in fact, taxable income. If in the past, the BIR’s enforcement drive focused mainly on corporate taxpayers, it appears to be sending the message that tax compliance is for all taxpayers, whether individual or corporate.Among the notable points in RMC No. 97-2021 is that the BIR went as far as discussing the tax impact if the social media influencer is taxed by a foreign jurisdiction on income paid by a foreign corporation. Its discussion also includes remedies to avoid double taxation, such as availing of the benefits of the applicable tax treaty.On that point, the BIR is now harnessing increasing coordination among foreign tax authorities by reminding social media influencers that it has the power to obtain information from foreign tax authorities. By utilizing the Exchange of Information provisions included in tax treaties, the BIR emphasized that it has the capability to determine if the social media influencers correctly disclosed their earnings in their tax returns.It then stands to reason that the BIR can likewise wield its power of obtaining information from foreign tax jurisdictions to also ascertain the correct amount of foreign-sourced income earned by other taxpayers. For instance, the BIR may determine the amount of any foreign-sourced dividends received by a domestic corporation using the Exchange of Information tools under the tax treaties, to determine whether these dividends were declared by the corporation for tax purposes.The power to obtain information through Exchange of Information is only one of the weapons in the BIRs arsenal to oversee tax compliance. It may be worth remembering that the National Internal Revenue Code itself gives the BIR the power to assess the proper tax based on the best evidence obtainable. The BIR has been known in the past to use commercial advertisements to approximate the taxpayer’s net worth.While RMC No. 97-2021 focused its discussion on the tax obligations from the perspective of social media influencers, corporations who partner with these individuals may well be reminded that any income payments to such individuals or corporations may also give rise to withholding obligations. As withholding tax agents, corporations are required to withhold a specific amount of income on their income payments. The domestic corporation paying the social media influencer is required to withhold tax on payments at a rate anywhere from 2% to 15%, depending on how the payment is characterized under the expanded withholding tax system. Failure to withhold the correct amount of tax can give rise to potential deficiency withholding tax assessments that can be raised in a tax audit.On this note, a withholding tax issue may arise on the part of corporations with respect to free products that they give to the social media influencer. RMC No. 97-2021 emphasizes that the fair market value of free products received by a social media influencer in exchange for promotion on the digital platform is to be treated as income. If these free products are to be treated as income payments, a question may be raised on how the corporation giving away the free products is to apply withholding tax rules. Since the payment is made in the form of goods, and not cash, what practical approach can be adopted by the corporation providing the free products to meet its withholding tax obligations? Are these payments through free products even subject to expanded withholding tax? These points may be worth considering both by the payors and the tax authorities themselves.Another potential impact of this regulation is the reputational or perception issue of the partnering corporation. If the social media influencer is deemed to be non-compliant with tax filing obligations, it is possible that the corporation partnering with the social media influencer can likewise be questioned by the BIR if it correctly withheld taxes on any payments that may have been made to the non-compliant social media influencer. This can be an additional issue to hurdle in the event of a tax audit on the partnering corporation.TAXES FOR COMPLIANCE AND SOCIETAL CONTRIBUTIONWhile RMC No. 97-2021 trains its attention on social media influencers, the broader implications are that the BIR has tools at its disposal to remind all taxpayers of their tax obligations and to enforce compliance. Moreover, this regulation reminds us that all income, no matter how it is sourced, cannot escape the taxing power of the state. This is especially relevant in these times, in which taxpayers, both individual and corporate, can help by providing the resources to fight the pandemic. This makes these taxes not just an obligation carried out of compliance, but also our contribution to help society heal. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Betheena C. Dizon is a Tax Partner of SGV & Co.

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20 September 2021 Martin C. Guantes

How will the auditing profession look in the future?

The pandemic has accelerated new ways of working across various industries, including the auditing profession. However, new ways of operating for audit firms and the companies they audit, including the sudden shift to flexible and remote working, are expected to outlast the immediate effects of the pandemic. According to the EY article, How the auditing profession is transforming to meet future challenges, this adds new dimensions to the existing challenges that audit professionals face in adapting audit to a rapidly evolving corporate world now and especially after the pandemic.With digital transformation driving companies to adopt more complex business models, the audit profession has the opportunity to transform itself by adopting an agile mindset capable of embracing disruption, further exploring the flexible working shift with hybrid working models and operating effectively in diverse, more technologically aware teams.EMBRACING DISRUPTION AND MULTIPLE DISCIPLINESAs the audit process becomes increasingly dependent on digital technology and data analysis, audit firms will require a more diverse skill set from their people. Though firms traditionally recruit auditors with business backgrounds with an emphasis on personal integrity and professional skepticism, all auditors will need to possess an increased level of technological understanding and an agile mindset that embraces disruption.As business models grow in complexity, firms will require professionals with the ability to leverage a wider specialist expertise across multiple areas of business. By directly accessing technical expertise through the multidisciplinary model and the resources of a broader firm, auditors can leverage knowledge such as cybersecurity, fraud, sustainability, and corporate finance expertise to provide high-quality audit services.While the article cites this as a necessary trend moving forward from the pandemic, it is interesting to note that we in SGV have been doing this kind of multidisciplinary talent development for a long time, with our professionals not only gaining strong audit competencies, but also acquiring related skills in business transformation, sustainability reporting, law, forensics, corporate governance, IT security, data analytics, business strategy development, digital transformation, workforce services, and many others.EXPLORING FLEXIBLE WORKING AND HYBRID MODELSThe pandemic has also proved that when the situation demands it, audit firms are capable of making rapid and significant changes to how they operate, particularly given the inherent challenges in mobility, interaction and collaboration due to quarantine and other restrictions. This shift has brought with it the reality that flexible, remote working has become the current norm for audit professionals who have both successfully adapted to using digital technology to perform audit work away from a client’s business premises, and learned to collaborate and support each other virtually.The sudden changes forced by COVID-19 not only helped accelerate cultural change in organizations — they also made them more open to different ways of working. This increased flexibility also brings with it other significant benefits, such as audit firms placing more emphasis on performance in terms of output and productivity.It should be noted, however, that such a rapid shift to flexible working also produced challenges that audit firms will need to address. Practical issues in remote working include audit teams having to hold their discussions over chat rooms or less personal virtual meetings, rapidly developing proficiency in using specialized digital platforms, and others. Moreover, there are also challenges with conducting sensitive conversations remotely, as well as helping new colleagues understand the firm’s organizational culture and receive proper coaching and mentoring. Building remote trust and rapport may be one of the new challenges for audit professionals in addition to needing to manage expectations from audited companies regarding onsite attendance.Firms can address these issues by shifting to a hybrid working model based on the requirements of the audit firm, its teams, and the companies they audit. This setting will involve determining the ideal proportion between flexible, remote and onsite working, and will depend on circumstances such as the need to build professional relationships. For example, teams will need to consider when they need to meet to increase team cohesion, receive training, or travel onsite to meet company management and establish trust and gather evidence. Auditors can also explore further applications of technology, such as the use of blockchain and drones to enhance audits, which professional firms like EY have been developing since even before the pandemic. As a member firm of EY, SGV has been able to leverage a number of technological applications that have enabled our audit teams to conduct remote audit.FOSTERING TEAM DIVERSITYThe move towards remote working further necessitates the need to build strong audit teams. The ideal audit team will have people who possess a wide range of personal and technical skills, diverse experiences, and viewpoints. This will mean recruiting people from wider backgrounds as well as providing opportunities for them to broaden their horizons to accommodate various interests and aspirations. The traditional linear and hierarchal career progression will not necessarily suit everyone, and it will be important to offer alternatives to those who do not want to go down this path. Promotions must also focus on skill instead of tenure, with career progression occurring once the individual is ready versus waiting for them to reach a certain number of years.However, fostering diversity will only be effective if the firm can create an appropriate environment where people can contribute and add value. Supporting a more diverse workforce that needs to operate in a rapidly evolving business environment will require continuous training, but with the new ways of working, such training will likely need to adopt a hybrid model based on the needs discussed previously. Long-term models will combine classroom-based and virtual setups to deliver training even beyond the pandemic.WORKING IN TRANSITIONThe working models brought about by the pandemic accelerated the transition towards a more flexible, diverse and technologically aware auditing profession. Auditors work in a continuously evolving space, with digital tools and data playing an increasingly significant role in the audit of tomorrow. While this process will pose an inevitable challenge for some, others will welcome it. If audit firms can navigate this change effectively, it gives audit professionals the opportunity to flourish.Digital transformation and the resulting new environment can give auditors not just more effective ways to perform their work, but a more purposeful profession that can better serve the public interest. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Martin C. Guantes is the Assurance Leader of SGV & Co.

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13 September 2021 Marie Stephanie C. Tan-Hamed

Changing the game with digital ecosystems (Second Part)

(Second of two parts)To create long-term value and secure a competitive advantage, it is imperative for companies to undergo digital transformation and address rapidly-evolving consumer expectations as many economies begin preparing to reopen and start the period of recovery. Consumers today expect responsiveness and a variety of channels to access with a hyper-personalized experience. The need for digital interaction, online consumerism characterized by expectations of high responsiveness and extensive personalization, and new technology platforms were further accelerated by the pandemic. Companies forced to innovate and enhance business models through technology have blurred the boundaries between industries, leading to the emergence of what we call digital ecosystems.Digital ecosystems are defined in a new EY study, Building successful digital ecosystems in Southeast Asia, as competitive game-changers. Formed through a combination of strategic partnerships and platforms, digital ecosystems deliver value to consumers through personalized products and services that cut across numerous channels. By presenting an interconnected set of offerings composed of businesses across various sectors, a digital ecosystem can fulfill consumer needs in one integrated experience.To create an effective digital ecosystem roadmap and strategy, the EY study highlights three things companies must take into account before embarking on their digital ecosystem journey. In the first part of this article last week, we discussed the first two: evaluating the digital ecosystem maturity of the organization and defining the business model. In the second part of this article, we continue by discussing implementing and mobilizing the ecosystem.IMPLEMENTING THE ECOSYSTEMOnce organizations identify a digital ecosystem opportunity, they need to follow certain steps to design an ecosystem. The first step consists of identifying the most suitable role for organizations to undertake: digital ecosystem partner, enabler, or orchestrator. Once their role is identified, organizations need to determine their business model based on digital and platform maturity and partnership ecosystem. Additional significant aspects that will need to be addressed include assessing and determining the nature of the ecosystem, product market fit for integrated solutions, and the monetization model to generate value from the ecosystem.Moreover, to further sustain and scale the reach and capabilities of the ecosystem, organizations need to identify the key enablers of the digital ecosystem. These include organization structure and culture, talent pool, the technology stack and external resources that will need to be progressively developed to create a sustainable digital ecosystem.Lastly, critical to building a successful digital ecosystem is understanding and creating the digital ecosystem evolution roadmap. This involves mapping maturity of the business within the ecosystem, building and growing partnerships, identifying the potential pitfalls of the digital ecosystem and designing a risk mitigation plan. MOBILIZING THE ECOSYSTEMThe ultimate aim for organizations should be to assume the role of an ecosystem orchestrator who defines the reference architecture of the ecosystem. Of the three roles in an ecosystem — orchestrator, partner and enabler — orchestrators are pivotal players in any ecosystem, often outperforming other entities in terms of revenue and profit. With the larger control they hold over ecosystem dynamics, they are also subject to being more exposed to the gains and losses of the ecosystem.Whether the orchestrator is an incumbent or an innovator, a business can mobilize a digital ecosystem in multiple ways: the build, buy and partner approach.The build approach has the orchestrator begin with its own platform before organically involving and adding industry partners to expand. This includes ride-sharing apps that built the platform organically and were later joined by drivers and partners.The buy approach is where the orchestrator strategically invests in platform-based businesses through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and investments to add upon their existing capabilities and customers. The investment made can be for small, strategic investments to get partners on board, or a majority stake.The partner approach leverages joint ventures, strategic contracts and alliances to develop a customized, platform-based offering that connects stakeholders and customers across different industries. These can also involve data-sharing or licensing arrangements between partners. CREATING LONG-TERM VALUE WITH ECOSYSTEMSThough digital ecosystems were originally believed to be relevant only to selected industries and regions, recent times have seen dominant ecosystem players accelerate their activities worldwide. This is only expected to intensify with the world continuing to prioritize digital interactions in the wake of the pandemic.The complex structure of digital ecosystems requires enterprises to define the right approach to maximize the value they can gain. It will be essential for businesses to assess how they create value to align their digital ecosystem strategy with the overall strategic vision of the company. They will need to assess market trends and identify the specific fit for their organization within the ecosystem.Questions that businesses must ask themselves include what opportunities to capitalize on the enterprise digital spend, how to build integrated, future-ready IT and data architecture, and how to digitally enable their workforce to drive transformation. After determining the maturity of the platform opportunity in their sector, the incumbents and disruptors in the current landscape, and whether their business model is best suited for the role of orchestrator or participant, businesses will need to assess and lock in quality partners through strong value propositions and develop one-stop solutions to commercialize the value chain end-to-end.By identifying the key objectives they need to achieve, be it core business growth, entry into new market segments or optimization within their operations, businesses will be able to more effectively map out their roles within an ecosystem and secure long-term value. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Marie Stephanie C. Tan-Hamed is a Strategy and Transactions Partner of SGV & Co.

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06 September 2021 Marie Stephanie C. Tan-Hamed

Changing the game with digital ecosystems (First Part)

(First of two parts)With the continuing uncertainty present in the global economy, digital transformation continues to be a business imperative for companies seeking to create long-term value, secure a competitive advantage, address more rapidly evolving consumer expectations and transform in preparation for the period of recovery. The need to physically distance for safety has deepened the need for digital interaction, online consumerism and new technology platforms. This shift in industry dynamics has blurred the boundaries between industries, leading to the emergence of digital ecosystems.According to the new EY study, Building successful digital ecosystems in Southeast Asia, digital ecosystems are becoming a competitive game-changer. A digital ecosystem is formed through a combination of strategic partnerships and platforms in the form of omnichannel architecture that delivers value to consumers through personalized products and services. By presenting an interconnected set of offerings composed of businesses across different sectors, a digital ecosystem can fulfill consumer needs in one integrated experience.A digital ecosystem is not just about a partnership or merger and acquisition (M&A) — it is about building a truly integrated network of enterprises that encourages and facilitates the sharing of applications, technology infrastructure and data. The shared elements of a digital ecosystem enhance and complement each other, resulting in improved innovation, trust and digital experiences.Organizations need to map their roles in a digital ecosystem as well as monetize the digital ecosystem to drive sustainable growth. To create an effective digital ecosystem roadmap and strategy, companies must take three considerations into account before embarking on their digital ecosystem journey. This article will discuss the first two: evaluating the digital ecosystem maturity of the organization and defining the business model.EVALUATE THE DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM MATURITY OF THE ORGANIZATIONWhile digital ecosystems present myriad opportunities to all value chain participants, there are also various hurdles that need to be overcome before reaping the benefits of a digital ecosystem. Companies often find it a challenge to choose the appropriate role for them and the path to achieve it. This makes a robust digital ecosystem strategy critical for every organization regardless of where it stands in its digital ecosystem journey.As part of devising a digital ecosystem strategy, organizations need to understand the different maturity levels to be traversed in the digital ecosystem journey, and assess where they lie on the maturity curve. These are based on the digital capabilities a business has developed and the level of transformational impact it creates. There are three maturity levels to consider: digital ecosystem adaptor, digital ecosystem accelerator, and digital ecosystem attacker.Most organizations start at the digital ecosystem adaptor level, where the transformation of an organization is at a modular level and is limited to a particular geographical market or business unit. The transformation initiative may be in the form of a pilot program, or the company leveraging partnerships and platforms to create value for its customers.The next stage is the digital ecosystem accelerator, where the organization scales the transformation to a company and industry level, adding more digital capabilities and creating value from the platform economy. This can disrupt the respective industry of the company as it redefines how business is conducted by being a pioneer.An organization at the level of a digital ecosystem attacker drives large-scale transformation across multiple industries, leveraging cross-sector collaboration and technology capabilities across various parts of the value chain. The transformation of the organization at this level utilizes multi-platforms, omnichannel plays and super apps, with strategic partnerships across different industries and geographies.The impact and value brought by an organization into the digital ecosystem broadens from the company level to an ecosystem level as it moves from being an adapter to an attacker. As with any maturity model, organizations at the first stage must transform themselves before transforming their industry and ecosystem in the last stage.DEFINE THE BUSINESS MODELAfter assessing and determining their own digital ecosystem maturity level, organizations need to identify the business model to leverage as a digital ecosystem participant based on parameters such as the nature of the ecosystem, the scale of industry partnerships and the revenue model.Businesses that are just starting out on their digital ecosystem journey usually leverage pilot programs to develop a coherent set of digital solutions through partnerships. At the next level, platform-based businesses must look to connect multiple stakeholders across different industries through a marketplace model. One such example of this is ride-sharing apps that expanded into adjacent segments of food delivery and payments. Businesses at the digital ecosystem attacker level will utilize a multi-platform model, which can be transformed into a single source capable of offering products and services from different industries in one seamless, integrated experience.Businesses can define their business model as a digital ecosystem participant based on three archetypes, each defined by the stages of evolution within a digital ecosystem: the digital ecosystem pilot, platform, and super app or multi-platform.The digital ecosystem pilot archetype creates a coherent solution by digitalizing product capability with new functionalities through digital partnerships. It is orchestrated by the core firm, internal business units or its incumbents, and requires digital ecosystem adapters to launch.The platform archetype offers a single platform that seamlessly connects users and is orchestrated by single platform companies. This archetype requires digital ecosystem accelerators to launch.The super app archetype focuses on integrating several platforms into one service and captures user data from their integrated platform. This archetype is orchestrated by multiplatform companies with large investments or capital and requires digital ecosystem accelerators or attackers to launch.In the second part of this article, we will discuss the considerations in implementing and mobilizing the ecosystem. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Marie Stephanie C. Tan-Hamed is a Strategy and Transactions Partner of SGV & Co.

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30 August 2021 Wilson P. Tan

The V in SGV

The S in SGV was a business icon in the person of Washington SyCip. Last June 30, SGV celebrated his centenary which coincides with the Firm’s 75th anniversary.On August 26th, SGV celebrated another centennial milestone — that of our Co-Founder, Alfredo M. Velayo. They were born just 57 days apart in 1921.  The two met when they were five years old on the first day of First Grade in P. Burgos Elementary School. They then remained friends for the rest of their lives — they were the original BFFs even before the term was coined.Mr. SyCip convinced Mr. Velayo to return to the Philippines after the Second World War.  Mr. Velayo had migrated to California with his young family at the time. Seizing the opportunities of post-war reconstruction, Mr. SyCip had started a one-man accounting firm in 1946 and not long after, wrote to Mr. Velayo to join him.  That historic correspondence is considered the firm’s first recruitment letter and is now proudly exhibited in the SGV Museum.Together, Mr. SyCip and Mr. Velayo worked hard to grow the company. They shared the same values of integrity and excellence; the same vision of helping in national development; and above all, they shared the same deep love for the Filipino people.  In just two decades under their joint leadership, SGV had grown from 5 people in a one-room office to more than 2,000 professionals in member firms throughout Southeast Asia called The SGV Group.The growth of SGV was phenomenal and it can be attributed to the balance that Mr. SyCip and Mr. Velayo brought to the practice.  Each of them had their roles cut out for them. While both were heavily involved in client work, it was Mr. SyCip who focused on much of the external requirements of the young firm. On the other hand, it was Mr. Velayo who was depended on to take care of the house. He was affable and his winsome ways encouraged a familial work environment.  He took very seriously his role as mentor and steward. His legacy in this respect is embodied in SGV’s Purpose to nurture people and leaders. In fact, when people think of Mr. Velayo, the first thing that they recall is the largeness of his heart.While Mr. Velayo retired from SGV when he was only 50, his presence was larger than life in SGV. He would faithfully attend all our events and he also chaired the SGV Foundation. He was also a client of the firm and that is how I personally got to know him. Two months ago, I had shared in this column some of the life lessons learned from Mr. SyCip. Here are some nuggets of wisdom that Mr. Velayo imparted to us. The first is to strive for perfection.Mr. Velayo was a man of precision — he always started and ended every activity on time. He was also a man of accuracy, which can be attributed to his being an accountant.  Many who had worked with him in numerous Boards recall how he would come prepared for every Board meeting with questions that demanded exact answers. Being an eloquent person, he was impatient with people who could not articulate themselves properly. Mr. Velayo was also always impeccably dressed and looked like a movie star. The second lesson is to care for your people.While Mr. Velayo believed deeply in the value of hard work, he believed even more strongly in the importance of taking care of his people in SGV. He focused on finding ways to bring out the best in people and letting their inner strength shine through. He famously said that SGV does not give people jobs, they are given brighter futures.Caring for others can also be shown in small acts of kindness.  He would tell us that little things matter — a lot. Take, for example, a thank you note to someone who had given you a gift or had done something nice. That short scribble can go a very long way. The third lesson is to give back or pay forward.When Mr. Velayo retired from corporate life, he didn’t stop working. Instead, he directed his formidable energies and intellect to finding ways to help and create opportunities for those in need. Not only was he the chair of the SGV Foundation, he also became president of the William J. Shaw Foundation. Both foundations support public educational institutions among many others.Looking back on his roots, Mr. Velayo was also inspired to support the schools that gave him and Mr. SyCip their educational foundations. At his instigation, they made numerous donations over the years to the P. Burgos Elementary School, the Victorino Mapa High School, and the University of Santo Tomas (UST).His passion for education shone through both as a student and teacher. During his early years in SGV, he would teach evening classes in UST. Little did he know that more than 60 years after he graduated from UST, the school would honor him with the creation of the University of Santo Tomas — Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy — an institution that now carries on his life’s vision to educate and care for future generations. The fourth lesson is to have a sense of humor.This was his trademark — he loved to make people laugh. While he was very serious when it came to business, Mr. Velayo always managed to see the lighter side of things. He never ran out of jokes and anecdotes on any occasion. Of course, some of them were recycled over time but, because of his masterful storytelling, everyone would always end up in stitches. Mr. Velayo enjoyed the company of people. He would host luncheons or dinners for small groups where he would narrate his fascinating life stories peppered with jokes.The V in SGV is no other than Mr. Alfredo Velayo. The V in SGV stood for his vivaciousness and vitality. The V in SGV represents his values of integrity, excellence and compassion that have endured the test of time. The V in SGV is the vision that our co-founders so carefully crafted and worked for which is to nurture Filipino professionals who can contribute to national development.Thank you, Mr. Velayo, for your legacy that continues to inspire us in our SGV Purpose to help build a better Philippines. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Wilson P. Tan is the Chairman and Country Managing Partner of SGV & Co.

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23 August 2021 Julie Christine O. Mateo

The certainty of Purpose

Every day, the volatility and uncertainty we see in the world continues to grow. People, organizations, and even countries are grappling with increasingly complex disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it often feels like we are constantly one step behind the changing times. However, while the global situation remains unpredictable there IS something that can provide us clarity and certainty — and that is Purpose.The global COVID-19 pandemic has revealed underlying weaknesses and vulnerabilities in many organizations. Many companies were caught off guard and needed to scramble to cope with new challenges, not just to growth, but even to survival. As we’ve discussed in previous C-Suites articles, companies are already rethinking how they work and the value they bring to their customers in the new normal and post-pandemic. For some, this has involved a reevaluation of their Purpose.To be clear, an organization’s Purpose is not just tested during times of crisis. It is an ongoing journey that companies need to undertake each and every day in the fulfilment of the organization’s collective “Why.” But we also need to see that a Purpose can resonate even more deeply when people struggle to find meaning in why they do what they do and the difference that it makes. It is a roadmap that reinforces the company’s values, gives weight to sacrifice, and encourages people to see the bigger picture. A Purpose acts like a North star — a beacon that can guide an organization’s people through dark times. Purpose is not a mission, vision or strategy — these can change over time. True Purpose endures and can provide clarity and conviction when we need it the most.DOES IT RESONATE WITH PEOPLE?A Purpose has to appeal to people on various levels — rational while being emotional, ethical yet strategic, important and enduring. It helps to state a core issue or challenge that the organization wants to address, and not simply make statements about their products or services. Sometimes, it also helps to go back to the organization’s roots and why it was founded. It also helps if the Purpose clearly illustrates the company’s identity in some way — does it reflect the interests and priorities of a company’s leadership? Does it include any metrics beyond financial value? Does it resonate with your people on a deeper level, and bring truth to what you wish to achieve?In SGV, for example, our Purpose to nurture leaders and enable businesses for a better Philippines is anchored on the bedrock of the vision, values and real-life examples of our founders and generations of alumni. The ideals of developing people, helping companies thrive and doing our part for our country and communities are already in our corporate DNA. By anchoring and articulating our Purpose on our roots, we provide our people with a familiar roadmap that feels achievable and something that they can actively contribute to.DOES IT ARTICULATE YOUR WHY, WHO AND HOW?WHYAuthor and motivational speaker Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action illustrates the importance of clearly communicating and stating the WHY behind the company’s existence. The WHY (provide a better way of life, creating healthier communities, create a more inclusive society) is more effective than merely stating WHAT (produce high-quality, low-cost goods, provide seamless services) the company does. In addition, many organizations with a powerful and motivating Purpose put people, both within and outside the company, at the heart of all their efforts.WHOA Purpose should clearly state who the organization aims to benefit beyond its shareholders. It is important to state or demonstrate how the organization’s work can benefit those beneficiaries. The beneficiaries can be as specific (marginalized women, small and medium enterprises, primary school children) or as general (healthy communities, a better country, every home) as the organization wishes. However, it should also be authentic and believable to be acceptable to your people and the public.HOWTo round out a Purpose statement, it should also clearly state “How” it intends to achieve its “Why” for its “Who.” This is often where organizations stumble as they strive to find the balance between being too abstract (becoming a world-class company, promoting innovation) or too specific (manufacturing cars, creating devices). Organizations that can find that “sweet spot” where a concrete, measurable and definable “How” can be communicated are more likely to crafting a powerful Purpose statement that will inspire people to truly embrace, act on and advocate it.DOES YOUR COMPANY CULTURE DEMONSTRATE IT?A unique and powerful Purpose can not only unite the people in your organization behind a personally meaningful, inspiring and achievable vision for the future, it can also provide a competitive advantage as it translates into better employee engagement, stronger commitment and more focused efforts and initiatives for the organization.However, it has to be authentic and believable, and it must necessarily permeate the organization from the top down. As stated in an article by EY Global, Why business must harness the power of purpose, for purpose to truly matter, it must go beyond any single initiative that sits on the margins of an organization. It must be driven operationally by the leadership team, and supported with training, performance metrics and talent management. Purpose also has to continually and organically suffuse every aspect of the organization, and should be constantly part of the dialogue between the leadership and the people in a company.Purpose, by itself, will not take the place of strategy or planning, but it does intensify the will and intent behind them.  It is also a continuing journey, one that everyone in an organization needs to constantly work together to truly achieve. By leveraging and truly embodying the power of Purpose, business leaders can help their people find certainty and assurance in an uncertain world. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Julie Christine O. Mateo is the Talent Leader and Purpose Council co-chair of SGV & Co.

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16 August 2021 Noel P. Rabaja

Repositioning for growth beyond COVID-19

More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is apparent that the impact of this global health crisis has far-reaching implications. Countries are still battling to contain the virus and businesses continue to adapt and find ways to address the resulting disruption. According to the EY Global Capital Confidence Barometer, 92% of global respondents reported a negative impact on their profitability due to COVID-19. For companies to thrive in this disruptive and rapidly changing landscape, looking beyond the immediate challenges is key — companies need to also seize the opportunity to transform and make long-term, strategic decisions on how to reframe their future.To accomplish this, it is important to be able to distinguish between temporary shifts in behavior and enduring changes. Companies have to focus on key trends that had been shaping up even before 2020 but were accelerated by the pandemic, and which will significantly impact how business is conducted. These trends were identified in the EY article, How companies can win in a dislocated economy. Companies need to consider these key trends in their strategy in order to reposition themselves for growth beyond the pandemic and achieve long-term success.DIGITALIZATIONEmerging technologies such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and robotics continue to have a transformative effect on companies regardless of their size, and across all aspects of business. As technological disruptions continue to arise today even under the shadow of the pandemic, companies will need to fully embrace digital instead of adopting it in silos. They need to incorporate it into their culture and corporate strategy, as well as allocate resources to accomplish their digital transformation goals.The 2020 study EY-Parthenon Digital Investment Index found that companies that achieved higher returns on their digital investments have better technical execution and clearer strategies. These digital leaders reported stronger revenue growth in the past two years and expect to sustain this growth in the future.ESG AGENDAThe pandemic has also heightened awareness of environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-related risks. As a result, there is increased pressure from stakeholders for companies to review their efforts to address global challenges such as sustainable growth and climate change. Businesses are driven to take action on these issues by rebuilding a stronger post-crisis business landscape underpinned by sound ESG principles.Companies that prioritize the ESG agenda benefit by driving improved financial returns and simultaneously making a better overall impact on the world as they do business. Research has proved that ESG initiatives positively correlate with the performance, financial value and reputational value of a company to investors. A University of Oxford study reveals that 88% of companies with robust ESG practices also demonstrate better operational performance.Given how wide the scope ESG can be, it may be a challenge for some companies to identify specific priorities and focus areas that can best deliver material sustainability, yet the data show that this is a necessary step for continuing growth.SECTOR CONVERGENCESome sectors did better than others in recovering from the uncertainty of COVID-19, resulting in uneven K-shaped recovery that is pushing sectors to converge as they push to survive. Lines between sectors such as media, telecommunications and healthcare were blurring even before the pandemic, driven by changing consumer behaviors and technological advancements. Digital ecosystems now connect very different stakeholders, indistinguishably linking insurers, governments, healthcare providers and consumers.We are already seeing this trend in our own market where, for example, we see a telecoms provider bundling healthcare and COVID-19 insurance into its packages, in addition to traditional voice and data plans. Similarly, some insurance companies are found on online retail platforms to market their products.Moving forward, companies will have to determine the impact of sector convergence upon their operating environment and find ways to rise past the challenges that emerge while also creatively coming up with adjustments to existing business models so that they can better capitalize on resulting new opportunities.CHANGING GEOPOLITICSThe pandemic exacerbated an inward-looking approach for several countries, impacting how governments made policies in their efforts to protect their citizens, create more jobs and address falling economies. However, Southeast Asia saw an opposite trend where countries like Vietnam and Indonesia liberalized their laws to attract foreign investment. In the Philippines, there is also a move to liberalize foreign investment in certain industries through the proposed amendment of the Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and Foreign Investment Act.Global leadership is also simultaneously becoming more multipolar as the US, EU and China emerge as competing powers. Smaller countries will have to align their activities to address changing global dynamics, while companies need to focus on applying and building resilience into their supply chains to anticipate the disruption from geopolitical shifts.REPOSITIONING FOR GROWTH BEYOND THE CRISISCompanies need to consider these key trends in developing their blueprints for recovery and growth. However, they will find that there is not one formula that can fit all, and that the right strategy will vary across industries.Businesses from any sector can nonetheless reposition for growth amid the current economic landscape. To do this, companies need to adopt proactive strategies based on a strong understanding of the key trends as well as the resulting sector dynamics and rapidly changing market landscape. These proactive strategies include taking bold decisions to transform existing businesses or transact through acquisition or divestment. Acquisition can help the company expand its capabilities or reach new markets and accelerate growth, while divestment can help build resilience. Past experience shows that companies who made the early bold choices — particularly acquisition or divestment — during crises had significantly higher total shareholder return over time, even if this meant taking an initial hit on their cash flows. These bold strategic decisions can create competitive advantage and long-term value to the business beyond the crisis.By integrating the key trends into their growth strategies and identifying the right path to follow, companies can reframe their future and emerge stronger in the period of post-pandemic recovery. This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.Noel P. Rabaja is the Strategy and Transactions Leader of SGV & Co.

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