Audit Committee Resource Guide
As the business, economic, and regulatory environments become more complex, much more is being asked of audit committees. This trend heightens the importance of staying current with changes in audit committees’ responsibilities.
Whether you are a seasoned or new audit committee member, there are many considerations to keep in mind. To help you understand what is expected of audit committee members, and what you can expect from serving on the committee, the Audit Committee Resource Guide presents an overview of the requirements for U.S. public companies.
The future of enterprise apps: Moving beyond workflows to mindflows
Source: Pricewaterhouse Coopers
Encouraged by the trend toward contextually aware mobile apps, enterprises are starting to request—and software developers are beginning to create—business applications that include the essential workflow automation but go well beyond it to incorporate support for the human cognitive processes as part of the overall business process.
The end-of-year holiday shopping season seems to start earlier and earlier each year, as retailers are already rolling out their holiday promotions. And those efforts appear to be working, as nearly one quarter (22%) of U.S. consumers report that they’ve already started their holiday shopping, according to the Nielsen’s 2013 Holiday Spending Forecast. Holiday shoppers can also be notorious procrastinators, as 60 percent say they will wait a bit before they start their shopping.
So what does this mean for U.S. retail sales this year? Nielsen expects this holiday shopping season will be marginally stronger than last year, with dollar sales rising just about 2 percent, buoyed by the strongest consumer sentiment in six years (98 on the Q3 2013 Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index).
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A Corporate Governance Breakdown: Exposing companies to greater risk of fraud and corruption
Internal auditors play a vital role in reducing the risk of fraud, corruption and other corporate wrongdoing. Yet, according to Deloitte’s new analysis of member survey data from The Institute of Internal Auditors (“IIA”), 62 percent or more of internal audit (“IA”) functions at public companies globally do not comply with all of the IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing. The situation is surprisingly similar at private companies, governmental and nonprofit entities.
Many boards and audit committee members, and investors, may be unaware of noncompliance with IIA Standards by their internal audit function. This noncompliance may pose significant risks for company leadership, which should seek to adopt appropriate internal audit programs consistent with leading industry practices and standards.
How Loyal Are Your Customers?
Standing out in a world of choice isn’t easy. Earning consumer devotion to a brand or store takes more than just offering a good product. Price, packaging, customer service and reputation are just some of the factors involved in a consumer’s decision-making process. That’s why getting to the heart of what makes a consumer stick or switch can be the difference between flourishing and fading. While Nielsen research shows that bigger rewards generally inspire higher loyalty levels, loyalty programs are no guarantee of loyal behaviors.
How do you turn a fickle fan into a faithful follower? You start by understanding the needs and motivations that drive their purchase decisions. And then you deploy the strategies and tactics that deliver the most value. This global study outlines the reasons why consumers switch brands, service providers or retailers and identifies the loyalty program attributes that potentially have the most staying power.
Free registration required to download full report.
How Does India Innovate?
Innovation isn’t easy. Globally, at least 90 percent of new product introductions fail in the year they launch. India is often viewed as a hotbed of innovation, but truth be told, the odds of launching a breakthrough success in this market may not be meaningfully better than anywhere else in the world. And the landscape is highly competitive. In looking at more than 14,000 launches in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector in 2011 for India, Nielsen deemed fewer than 40 as true breakthrough innovations.
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’Tis the Season to Focus on Fresh
There’s no time like the holidays for lavish feasts and decadent treats, which means it’s time for consumers to start decking their fridges and pantries with food for year-end entertaining. So when December hits, shoppers up the ante when it comes to stocking their baskets with fresh foods, when family and friends begin gathering to indulge on holiday favorites like turkeys, pies and sweet potatoes. And because quality and selection in the fresh departments is an important driver of shoppers’ store choice, enticing shoppers with fresh options in December can mean winning the entire holiday basket and generating the highest sales of the year.
The week of Christmas is a gift to fresh food sales. Behind Thanksgiving, it’s the highest-selling week of the year, and fresh food sales are 8 percent higher than average. Fresh foods account for 32 percent of total food sales during that week (compared with the 30% annual average). Winning in fresh is critical around Christmas, because losing the holiday basket could be more costly than any other time throughout the year.
Competition for the fresh-focused holiday basket is greater than ever. While traditional grocery stores are the leaders in fresh food sales, other retail channels – including supercenters, club, dollar and even drug stores – are responding to growing consumer demand by delivering greater availability and assortment of fresh foods. So how does a retailer gain the competitive edge and win the holiday basket?
Forthcoming changes to the insurance market landscape in 2014 and 2015 will bring many employers to a crossroad. As health care reform unfolds, markets evolve, and costs continue to rise, employers will need to make important strategic decisions to actively manage their costs and figure out how best to respond to insurance-related provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or the Act).
Deloitte’s 2013 survey of U.S. employers (50+ workers) offering health benefits shows their concern and uncertainty about ACA preparedness, health care system performance, cost-reduction strategies, and the quest to find value. Among key findings:
- U.S. health care system performance — Seeking better value and health outcomes for their investment, many employers are dissatisfied with the performance of the health care system, considering it to be costly, wasteful, underperforming, and lacking in transparency.
- Affordable Care Act — Although familiar with many of the ACA’s insurance elements, three years into implementation and facing decisions around insurance exchanges and the employer mandate, the Act remains largely a mystery to many employers.
- Employer strategies and tactics — Employee cost-sharing tactics are in place but there is a gap between what employers are currently using and tactics they think could have high impact in managing costs.
Many employers are sitting on the fence with respect to any radical changes in their employee health care coverage strategy. To date, most are adopting a “wait and see” position on health insurance exchanges. Some are taking steps to help employees lower their health risks and manage their consumption of health care but could do more. Few appear to be evaluating any return on investment of wellness programs or undertaking claims analyses to drive insights and decision-making.
New strategies are likely to emerge as employers weigh their options and as the implementation of the ACA impacts their thinking. What is clear is that “doing nothing” is not an option.
The U.S. real estate recovery is set to continue into 2014, with investors increasingly looking beyond some of the traditionally popular markets to secondary markets in search of higher yields, according to Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2014, co-published by PwC US and the Urban Land Institute (ULI).
According to real estate market participants, the predicted growth in secondary markets is driven by investors searching for returns as opportunities in core markets become harder to find and the best assets become more expensive. As a result, the report anticipates that 2014 may be the year that many investors who have traditionally focused mainly on large established markets such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, will be expanding their focus to other cities in order to protect capital. This trend, first noted in last year’s Emerging Trends report, is likely to build substantial momentum next year, given the steady pace of improvement in market fundamentals in secondary markets, and with more investments in those markets meeting investors’ risk/return metrics.
The movement into secondary markets is underpinned by the anticipated increase in both debt and equity capital during 2014. Respondents were particularly positive about the prospects for equity capital from foreign investors, institutional investors and private equity funds, as well as debt from insurance companies, mezzanine lenders, and issuers of commercial mortgage-backed securities.
Survival of the fastest: TV’s evolution in a connected world
Television is characterized by constancy and change. It delivers consistently high quality entertainment and information to hundreds of millions of homes in Europe against a background of unrelenting change. Consumer behaviors, business models, underlying technologies and the needs of adjacent sectors such as telecommunications evolve untiringly.
In a year in which government surveillance has dominated the headlines, today we’re updating our Transparency Report for the eighth time. Since we began sharing these figures with you in 2010, requests from governments for user information have increased by more than 100 percent. This comes as usage of our services continues to grow, but also as more governments have made requests than ever before. And these numbers only include the requests we’re allowed to publish.
2013 Trends & Experience in Defined Contribution Plans: An Evolving Retirement Landscape (Highlights)
The continued shift from defined benefit (DB) plans to defined contribution (DC) plans has placed a greater emphasis on employees to take responsibility for their own retirement readiness. A new survey by Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), reveals that employers are increasingly taking bolder actions to help ensure participants achieve greater financial security. Recognizing the vast majority of employees are not prepared to maximize their 401(k) savings potential, employers are making significant changes in plan structure and investments while also increasing the amount of guidance provided to participants.
Unfiltered — Fall 2013: The New Hyperlocal (PDF)
Source: Group SJR
welcome to the third edition of unfiltered, Group SJR’s quarterly report featuring the latest trends in digital content, design, advertising, technology and, of course, our very own recommendations on what you should be reading, watching and using.
The information is ‘unfiltered’ because it’s from the people with unique knowledge sharing their insights directly with an audience hungry to learn, laugh and know.
This quarter’s theme is The New Hyperlocal.
Hospital Consolidation: Analysis of Acute Sector M&A Activity
Consolidation in the acute sector is accelerating as hospitals seek sustainability amid increasing stress from margin pressures, regulatory compliance costs, public transparency responsibilities, operational integration in value-based delivery systems, payment reforms, and clinical improvements based on new diagnostic and therapeutic models.
How well do acquired hospitals perform financially post-merger? Do hospitals acquired by national chains outperform local/regional “in market” acquisitions? How does the performance of acquired hospitals compare to a peer group (same size) and acute hospitals?
The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions analyzed 101 hospital transactions in 2007-2008, using three measures to analyze the performance of the acquired hospital pre-merger and up to three years post-merger. The study reveals:
- The financial performance for acquired hospitals improved, but did not achieve peer group medians.
- The financial performance of hospitals acquired by national chains outperformed local/regional acquisitions as a result of lower operating costs and increased volume comparatively.
Stress testing: Failures on the horizon?
Source: PricewaterHouse Coopers
On November 1, 2013, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors (“Fed”), along with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, released documents pertaining to the capital stress testing requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act. One set of documents contained the stress test macroeconomic scenarios (i.e., baseline, severe, and severely adverse) and instructions that outline the economic parameters to be used by bank holding companies (“BHCs”) and by banks with over $10 billion in assets. Concurrently, the Fed issued the 2014 Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (“CCAR”) guidance that outlines revised requirements for BHCs with over $50 billion in assets whose capital plans would require Fed review.
Beyond the changes in the scenario parameters, these documents outline a number of other important updates, including accelerating the timeline for calculation of Basel III capital ratios. Furthermore, BHCs and banks with $10 billion to $50 billion in assets will be conducting supervisory stress tests in 2014 for the first time, while the results of stress tests for certain BHCs with over $50 billion in assets (i.e., those BHCs that were subject to capital plan review in 2013 but not to CCAR) will be publicly released. Taken together, these and others changes evidence our previously stated expectation that the stress testing bar will continue to rise for large BHCs and that more failing grades are likely in the future.
The 2014 Essential Tax and Wealth Planning Guide: A year-round resource to focus on managing uncertainty
Wealth planning in a time of uncertainty may feel as solitary as standing on a mountain ridge at sunrise, camera in hand, waiting for ideal conditions to capture that once-in-a-lifetime shot. But there are tools that can help. Just as a landscape photographer relies on a tripod, various filters, and knowledge of aperture and shutter speed, you can navigate the tax planning process by relying on your trusted tax advisor to stay informed on the latest tax law changes, relevant planning opportunities that address your current tax situation, and financial and tax risks that may lie ahead.
The 2014 Essential Tax and Wealth Planning Guide discusses opportunities available through the final few months of 2013, and the planning environment beyond as policymakers continue a tax reform debate that could fundamentally change how individual taxpayers compute their taxes.
Now in its 26th year, the guide features insight into how potential changes could impact your tax and wealth plans with an eye toward the possibility of further increasing rates — particularly for wealthy individuals and their estates. In this publication, we will help you analyze your personal circumstances and identify underlying realities as you plan in the context of today’s environment.