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Tricor Group and the Financial Times Board Director Programme have co-released the inaugural Asia Pacific Board Director Barometer Report, uncovering corporate board sentiments on COVID-19 disruptions globally with a focus on Australia and other APAC markets.

According to the 2021 Asia Pacific Board Director Barometer Report:

  • Business continuity and GRC pressures are weighing on boards, with an overwhelming 83 percent of corporate board directors globally and 84 percent in APAC citing these as top priorities. Overall, confidence about the handling of the crisis is mixed in APAC and there’s significant room for improvement in some markets: 50 percent of board directors in Australia said they feel positive about the way their boards have responded, compared to Singapore (71 percent), mainland China (68 percent), Malaysia (56 percent), Thailand (52 percent), Hong Kong (51 percent), Japan (45 percent) and Vietnam (42 percent).
  • Triggered by the mass virtualization following COVID-19, data security has emerged as a pressing concern for 83 percent of corporate boards. However, these sentiments have not yet been followed up with corrective action. For example, although 77 percent of board directors in Australia said data security was an ongoing concern, only 47 percent said their boards had taken dedicated actions during COVID-19 to improve data security, suggesting that a majority of boards are still operating within inadequate, outdated cyber security frameworks.
  • Corporate boards in APAC are resistant to engaging the third-party expertise and solutions needed to solve rapidly emerging challenges. While 60 percent of directors in the Americas reported their boards would consider engaging third-party expertise to help independently assess GRC and business continuity frameworks, APAC was noticeably less receptive with under half (48 percent) of directors saying their boards would consider doing so. In Australia, just 43 percent of board directors reported their boards would consider third-party expertise and solutions.
  • Concerningly, one in four corporate boards are not taking action to transform business to bridge widening digital adoption gaps. To prepare for a post-pandemic future, 73 percent of directors globally said their boards are actively exploring new digital tools. This figure was matched in Australia while Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia surpassed the global average at 92 percent, 79 percent, 78 percent and 76 percent respectively. However, these numbers tracked lower in Hong Kong (70 percent), mainland China (68 percent) and Singapore (67 percent) indicating that large segments of corporate boards in the region have not adopted the digital board portals, digital governance tools and solutions needed to shift from surviving to thriving virtually.
  • Board directors are asking for more corporate governance training to increase capabilities: 94 percent of directors globally said they need more training while just 58 percent are receiving it. These statistics were exactly matched by the survey’s sample of board directors in APAC. In Australia, 97 percent of directors said they need more training and just 57 percent are currently receiving it.

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