EY Spotlight on Business, Issue 4, 2014

Issue 4, 2014

Spotlight on Business

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A global marketplace defined by rising entrepreneurship in a digital future.

This encapsulates three megatrends that are irrevocably transforming the world we live, and do business in. How does one find pole position within? Clearly, there is no room for complacency as businesses and governments alike pursue growth in this new reality.

Maintaining status quo is hardly a good option. Southeast Asia corporates recognize this. Traditionally conservative in their capital strategies, they are now showing appetite for growth, offering optimism for a buoyant region even as IPOs make a muted start in 2015.

There is a unique opportunity for regional companies to gear up and exploit the prospects of the impending ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Investors remain keen on ASEAN’s developing markets, including Myanmar, which has enjoyed a steady influx of FDI as economic reforms gain momentum.

Sustaining market appeal will require concerted government effort, as seen in the slipping FDI in Central and Eastern Europe.

FDI aside, building up domestic companies through entrepreneurship continues to be vital. Family businesses in Southeast Asia attest to this, and those that have thrived over generations offer important insights into governance and succession.

While corporates grapple with issues on gender parity in the boardroom, family businesses face added leadership challenges. The question around succession, albeit emotionally sensitive, is inevitable. The question really isn’t about “what if”, but “when.”

The same question can be asked of fraud and cyber security breaches in today’s digital environment. Preparing for the worst as if it will happen puts your organization in a stronger posture against increasingly complex threats — internal and external.

C-suite executives who have yet to contemplate the digital future will find themselves blindsided by risks and missed opportunities. As Warren Buffet said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”

Max Loh, EY Managing Partner, Asean and Singapore

Max Loh

Managing Partner, Asean and Singapore