Taxwise Or Otherwise

Every Chinese New Year, my wife and I have this tradition where we go to our favorite restaurant to pray and reflect on the past year and write down our plans and aspirations for the upcoming year. It serves to remind us how God is in total control of our lives. It also makes us realize how much we grew after experiencing all sorts of interesting events in the past year, whether good or bad, and during fun and frustrating times.
In planning for 2019, I have learned that listening to and reading the viewpoints of people with more experience, like CEOs, can help me gain insights about the future. One wonders — what do CEOs know about the future? Well, numerous studies and correlation analysis have shown that CEOs’ revenue confidence is a good leading indicator of the direction of the global economy. In this respect, I’ve found PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey to be particularly insightful.
So what are CEOs saying about 2019? PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey of 1,378 chief executives in more than 90 territories explored that question and these three main themes emerged:

1. More CEOs are pessimistic about the future, with nearly 46% of ASEAN CEOs expecting a decline in global GDP growth for 2019.

2. This record jump in pessimism among CEOs is largely driven by uncontrollable strong nationalist and populist sentiments sweeping the globe, which has caused businesses to face new challenges, uncertainties and risks.

3. CEOs are also finding it difficult to get the information they need as their organizations struggle to translate large amounts of data for better decision-making. Clearly, there is a shortage of skilled talent to clean, integrate, and extract value from big data, as well as a growing need for artificial intelligence (AI).

Based on these themes, I put together my own insights in the form of the word GOD, for easy recall as we do our best to be successful throughout 2019:
Always remember that God has a purpose and a plan for what we will go through and experience in 2019. I believe that God has a reason for what He allows in our life, but God is good so we just have to trust Him completely, pray to Him consistently, and be willing to walk by faith and obedience as we follow His lead.
Every New Year brings a new season of opportunities. However, we are only able to make the most of these opportunities by ensuring that we properly plan ahead for the challenges and changes that will occur in 2019. For example, as mentioned in the survey, companies still struggle to turn data into actionable business plans, and the main reason for this frustration is the ‘lack of analytical talent.’ Without usable data, organizations are stymied in their efforts to move aggressively towards AI, which CEOs overwhelmingly ‘agree’ will have a significant impact on their businesses within the next five years.
There are no quick fixes when it comes to closing the skills gap. Nevertheless, from my own experience, this is an opportunity for companies to accelerate their growth by creating a long-term plan that not only upskills workers for AI and other technological changes, but also provides a sense of purpose and a great people experience.
Any long-term plan must emphasize building a culture of adaptability and lifelong learning that will be crucial in spreading the benefits of AI and its related technologies widely throughout the company. Improving the company’s overall STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills is also useful in allowing people to perform the new roles and tasks that will arise out of AI and robotics.
Furthermore, companies must also continuously enhance their employees’ soft skills like creativity and empathy, since these skills help people become more adaptable and employable throughout their working lives. Given the importance of STEM and soft skills, companies need to include creative solutions that will address educational needs in their long-term workforce plan.
Finally, as companies strive to build a better long-term workforce plan and strategy for the future, they can also take this opportunity to rebalance their workforce composition, convert traditional jobs into more flexible roles and appropriately price the tasks that people perform, which could possibly lower the costs of implementing AI and contribute towards the successful translation of data into value-adding business decisions.
2019 is a new season of hope, but it is also shaping up to be a year of uncertainty for the Philippines and other countries. Multiple global events are on the horizon such as the possibility of a full-blown U.S. and China trade war, Brexit and global recession. Therefore, we should rededicate ourselves towards the difficult mission of managing not only our own personal risk, but also that of our organization.
As key stakeholders, we should go beyond mere job descriptions to contribute towards our organization’s growth in a more holistic manner. We need to do our part in helping analyze the complex relationship between risk management, customer satisfaction, and profit-centricity such as by adopting the principles of COSO’s Enterprise Risk Management Framework — Integrating with Strategy and Performance.
Organized into five easy-to-understand components, the COSO ERM Framework provides greater insight into the value of enterprise risk management when setting out business strategies, implementing these strategies and enhancing the performance of a company. We also need to start revisiting and reimagining current organizational models in order to identify the steps we need to take today, to ready ourselves for the future. After all, it is only by doing so that we set the stage for our organization’s sustainable future and success as well as our own source of income and livelihood.
In closing, let us follow GOD to succeed as we move towards a challenging 2019. May the Lord bless you and your family!
The views or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting Services Philippines Co. Ltd. The content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for specific advice.
Jonathan L. Uy is a director with the Risk Consulting practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting Services Philippines Co. Ltd., a Philippine member firm of the PwC network.
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