Directorpoint Establishes Australian Headquarters

Directorpoint Establishes Australian Headquarters
Here at Directorpoint, we’re thrilled to announce that we have recently opened an official headquarters and data center in Australia. As our number of Aussie clients has grown, we have actively pursued ways to improve their product experience. The establishment of the data center, in particular, will allow Australian clients to experience significantly faster download and upload speeds while using our software.

As an organization out of Birmingham, Alabama, we’re very proud to be positively affecting decision-making processes in boardrooms across the globe. Our team sees this expansion as the next step further in expanding our international reach. John Peinhardt, our Founder and President, shares, “We are very excited about our prospects globally and are thrilled that Australia is home to the first of many international Directorpoint offices. We believe the new data center will help us provide an enhanced experience for our clients who are currently operating in Australia.”
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Board Membership 101: Risk Management

Board Membership 101: Risk ManagementDecades ago, the notion of “risk management” boiled down to the simple act of buying insurance. These days, however, board members are expected to be much more involved in overseeing and evaluating their company’s level of risk. According to PwC, risk management includes “the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks and the application of resources to minimize, control, and mitigate the impact of unfortunate events on a business. It is the job of a board to oversee that their management teams have adequate risk management policies and procedures in place.”

Overseeing risk isn’t a job that falls solely on outside directors, though. According to the Harvard Law School Forum, internal executives are expected to handle the day-to-day risks of their business operations, but directors should, “through their risk oversight role, satisfy themselves that the risk management policies and procedures designed and implemented by the company’s senior executives and risk managers are consistent with the company’s strategy and risk appetite.” In other words, it’s the job of the board to ensure that the CEO and senior executives are completely engaged in systematic risk management behaviors.
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Board Membership 101: Self-Evaluation

Self-Evaluation

Since boards of directors are self-governing bodies, it’s important that they take the time to reflect on their performance both individually and as a group. The New York Stock Exchange requires listed companies to participate in some form of an annual self-evaluation, so many organizations already have a process in place. But for some of these companies, board self-assessments are met with an attitude of obligation rather than receptivity to the benefits of a well-executed evaluation.

For other, smaller companies, the practice of yearly self-evaluations has simply been overlooked in the past. These assessments, however, provide an outstanding resource for bettering board functionality. For example:
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Board Membership 101: Financial Oversight

Board Membership 101: Financial Oversight

Chances are good that if you ask a stranger on the street what a board member’s most important job is, they’re likely to mention finances. Boards have long been seen as the “make it or break it” play callers for corporations that either boom or bust. Financial oversight, while closely related to fiduciary duties in general, calls for a board member’s attention to detail and ability to understand the current position of the company’s financial assets. Although every decision a board member makes may not be a financial one, all of their decisions will affect the financial future of the organization they serve.

Providing a company with great financial oversight takes serious effort on the part of board members. Here are some ways that they can excel:

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Board Membership 101: Policy Shmolicy

board member policy

Policy-making may not be the sexiest side of board membership, but it is an absolutely vital corporate director duty. Company policies affect every aspect of governance and decision-making—from CEO selection to board management guidance and beyond. In a time when expectations for board members are soaring, policy-making has also become a significant way to reduce risk.

According to Mitch Dorger, experienced CEO and governance consultant, boards should be creating a strong policy focus. He writes, “Clear, concise and current policies improve the overall management of the organization…By having these documented, …[the board] speaks with one voice—avoiding a problem that many organizations have with multiple sources of policy guidance.” Unfortunately, many boards struggle to maintain a policy focus. Dorger continues, “When I was still a chief executive officer, I led an effort to get my board to establish and document the policies that were needed to govern the organization…When I talked to the board about creating a policy focus, there was some confusion about what policies are and what they are not.”
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Corporate Titans Call for Better Governance in WSJ Ad

Corporate Governance

If you’re perusing the latest issue of The Wall Street Journal, take a moment to flip to the back of section A. You won’t be able to miss the full-page spread that was secured by 13 of the country’s most influential business leaders. The ad, which is signed by people like Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway and Mary Barra from General Motors, has one major purpose: to offer up commonsense governance principles “in the hope that they will promote further conversation on corporate governance.”

The article, which is also presented in full at www.governanceprinciples.org, begins by outlining how the future of the economy relies heavily on companies “being managed effectively for long-term prosperity.” It points out that millions of Americans’ retirement savings, college savings, plans to buy a home, and more are directly affected by decisions made by board members at major corporations. The authors continue by insisting that although they don’t agree on every single aspect of corporate governance, they can offer up six major principles on which they can agree. The principles are summarized in the main article but can be viewed in depth here.

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Board Membership 101: Evaluating CEO Performance

evaluating CEO performanceOnce a board has hired a capable CEO, it’s important that they continue to offer their guidance and support. For some boards, CEO evaluation is a bit of an afterthought. Stephen P. Kaufman, CEO at Arrow Electronics, describes his own first evaluation process as merely perfunctory. He explains, “The chair of the compensation committee would pop by my office for just 10 minutes after the year-end closed session of independent directors. He’d inform me that the board was happy that the company had made its numbers, thank me for my leadership, tell me what compensation it had approved, and express his regret that he couldn’t stay to talk.” In other words, as long as things appeared to be going well, the board merely patted him on the back and went about its own business. This model, however, does very little to thoroughly evaluate the CEO’s performance. While it focused on his ability to meet financial goals, it overlooked his influence on company culture, strategic planning, and other aspects of leadership that indicate the development of a well-rounded company.

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Board Membership 101: Hiring a CEO

hiring a CEOChief executive officer selection and succession planning are among the most important responsibilities for any board of directors. In fact, some business writers will go so far as to say, “choosing the next CEO is the single most important decision a board of directors will make.” Either way, most board members will tell you that finding and hiring the right CEO is a tall order. Directors know that a CEO’s influence and legacy can be felt for years after their departure—in both positive and negative ways, depending on the situation. In the ever-changing corporate landscape, CEOs will come and go, which is why it’s important for boards to create a reliable process for hiring a CEO for the organization they serve.

If the exiting CEO is merely retiring or moving on to another opportunity on good terms, it’s sensible to involve them in the hiring process. No one will understand the demands of the position quite like someone who has recently experienced them. If the board lacks confidence in the CEO, though, the lead director should take charge of the process.
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Board Membership 101: Strategic Guidance

Board Membership 101: Strategic Guidance

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.

He may not have known it at the time, but when Warren Bennis (American scholar and pioneer of Leadership Studies) penned those words, he was aptly explaining what strategic guidance means for the boardroom today. Directors must be prepared not only to envision the future of the company, but also to find the best way to guide it into the fulfillment of that vision. To understand what strategic guidance means exactly, we must take a look at the two words individually.

Strategy

Crafting company strategy is an essential function of a board of directors. Simply stated, board members must bring their assortment of individual knowledge and experience to the table in order to seek out the best path forward for the business. Strategic thinking takes many elements into consideration: goal setting, prioritization, realistic financial planning, and more. The expectation is that board members should be looking at the horizon rather than at the ground beneath their feet.
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Board Membership 101: Fiduciary Duties

Board Membership 101: Fiduciary Duties

The foundation of a board member’s service is their fiduciary duty to shareholders. Before we jump into what kinds of duties are involved, let’s look more closely at the word fiduciary:

fiduciary
(adjective): involving trust, especially with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary.

It’s a word that we hear a lot in the corporate world, but its basic meaning often gets overlooked. Simply put, the word fiduciary is all about trust, and that’s exactly what’s required of directors under corporate governance law.

The Three Types of Fiduciary Duties:

  1. The Duty of Care

According to Investopedia, the duty of care “applies to the way the board makes decisions that affect the future of the business. The board has the duty to fully investigate all possible decisions and how they may impact the business. Because a company’s board of directors is tasked with making very important decisions, it is necessary that each member takes each issue seriously and adequately considers all options.”

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