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MAPping the Future

What is the secret of BDO’s success

/ 04:01 AM December 09, 2019

(Part 2)

Third, we focus on the team, not the superstars. We emphasize team goals, team rewards and individual contributions to team success.
Fourth, we believe in our people. We start with the assumption that all can and will do well if given the right environment and support. Be that environmentalist that creates the milieu for people to succeed. Accept that no employee is perfect, so live with their shortcomings. Anyway, wouldn’t you rather deal with the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

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Lastly, never lose sight of your market. Products are products, capabilities are capabilities, technology is technology, but only market acceptance will allow you to make a profit.

Much has been placed on technology, products and capabilities these days. Therein lies the problem if you focus on those. You move too fast, the market may not be ready. You commit too soon, the technology may change. You wait, you may get left behind. You do not prepare, you may be caught unaware. In the end, you really have to watch your customer.

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Our success has always been measured in terms of size. We never set out to be No. 1. That was not our goal. We wanted to be good at what we do—one client, one product, one transaction at a time. Becoming big was just a by-product of doing what we do, relatively well.
I think my 30 minutes is almost up so let me end now with leaving you all with some food for thought. Certain management practices have become in vogue and I think we need to ask ourselves whether we have swung the pendulum too far.

First, we all accept that governance is important, almost indispensable for sound management. However, the adherence to global standards have taken on a turn toward compliance to global prescriptions. Universal principles of fairness, integrity, accountability, transparency and performance are sound. But universal prescriptions may not apply to all markets. Worse, we may get addicted to scorecards and awards mostly based on checklists against generic prescriptions.

In developed economies where corporate ownership is dispersed, the use of independent directors is a good way to create the proper checks and balance mechanisms on management and management-nominated directors. In our environment, we forget that majority shareholders share the same desire to ensure management’s propriety. Have we placed too much reliance and burden on independent directors at the expense of the major shareholders? Let’s focus on the output not on who’s doing the work.

Second, are the principles of fair competition helping or hampering our economy? I would venture to say that that the US and European models may not be the best for a country like ours. Should we follow more the Korean model, where they nurture national champions in different industries so they can compete, regionally or globally? Besides, how do you define a proper competitive landscape? Is it local, national, regional or global? I would say in the banking industry it’s all those. But we should be cognizant that everybody is in a global playing field.

Third, what constitutes good corporate management practice? Often, the western practice tilted the pendulum of value creation toward achievement of short-term gains. Much emphasis has been placed on quarterly profits and share gains, but not enough on long-term investments, market share or franchise growth. Asian investors (primarily family owners) look at improving value of the business for the next generation. In Asia, majority shareholders (mostly family-controlled) are “brands” that have withstood several generations. Let’s not lose sight of those
values.

While there is always room to strike the right balance, when share prices tumble, the tendency is to err on the side of short-term gains.
Lastly, we all have to be ambassadors of the country. We are in a sweet spot now with good and broad-based growth. We may like what we see (half full) or may not (half empty). Regardless of our view, let’s all work to fill the glass more. Our optimism or pessimism will not change the situation, but our concerted action to expand on the positives will clearly go a long way.

In closing, I am reminded of my first encounter with Mr. Wash Sycip when I joined SGV some years back. He said that (and I am paraphrasing here) our careers will only grow if the institution grows and the institution will only grow, if the country grows. Therefore, as management practitioners, we have a responsibility to help our economy grow. And that means making an effort to influence policy issues that hamper the growth of our company, our industry and our nation’s economy.

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Please allow me to end with that call to all MAP (Management Association of the Philippines) members and management practitioners.
Thank you. INQ

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