Financial Management & Risk

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Navigating the Next Wave of Blockchain Innovation: Smart Contracts

Blockchain represents more than just cryptocurrencies and digital cash. The decentralized ledger system provides a platform for smart contracts, which are digital agreements that are fast, secure, and require no third party.

Taking Stock of Corporate Risk-Taking

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Research shows equity incentives introduce bias in executive recommendations and strategic planning. To counter this, boards should consider three key steps in assessing corporate risk.

Finding the Middle Ground in a Politically Polarized World

Consumers and employees increasingly expect companies to engage with social, environmental, and economic issues. But business leaders can find themselves between a rock and a hard place, especially when corporate political activism is framed as “take a stand or be silent.” The reality is that companies need a more nuanced set of options.

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Blockchain and the Clean, Smart Grid

  • Column

  • Column
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Some techies think that blockchain and “tamperproof databases” will revolutionize more than money: A blockchain platform for the energy sector could accelerate the transition to renewables. Blockchain can help by making tracking energy more granular, automated, and trusted, which can allow companies to better verify claims of carbon neutrality. It could also streamline financing and insuring new energy projects and even help create a new kind of energy market.

Why Businesses and Governments Need to Stop Trying to Secure Their Networks

Moving to a zero-trust network, where all the services an organization needs are hosted in the cloud, is the most secure IT option. Most network breaches are caused by human error: People forget their laptops in bathrooms and cabs, connect to insecure public Wi-Fi, click on emails they shouldn’t, and download attachments carrying malware. The only way to manage this threat is to dismantle the privileged intranet and treat every login as a potential threat.

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How to Develop Strategy for Execution

When developing strategy for execution, managers often want to start by setting their strategic priorities, but that’s a mistake. Management teams should start by identifying the corporate vision and critical vulnerabilities — both of which help clarify and shape priorities.

Four Logics of Corporate Strategy

Organizations often struggle with corporate strategy because executives lack clarity on how the parts of the corporation fit together. Without a shared understanding of the relationships between headquarters and business units, executives risk talking past one another when discussing strategy.

Could the Big Technology Companies of Today Be the Financial Advisers of Tomorrow?

  • Frontiers

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 10 min 

Although traditional financial services companies now offer mass-market financial advice via “robo-advisers,” average U.S. customers seeking investment advice are still underserved — and platform-based digital powerhouses like Amazon are taking notice.

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Six Reasons Why Companies Should Start Sharing Their Long-Term Thinking With Investors

Most CEOs have detailed long-term plans, which are often closely held secrets out of concern that competitive advantage may be undermined by detailed disclosure. Yet disclosing a long-term plan provides an opportunity to identify financially material sustainability issues and demonstrate how the company manages business-critical issues — information that’s valuable to investors.

Using Scenario Planning to Reshape Strategy

Rather than trying to predict the future, organizations need to strengthen their abilities to cope with uncertainty. A new approach to scenario planning can help companies reframe their long-term strategies by developing several plausible scenarios.

The Board’s Role in Share Repurchases

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 4 min 

Many companies’ decisions about share repurchases are handled mainly by management rather than boards — with repercussions for capital allocation. Boards should carefully balance the capital needed for repurchases against its use in value creation via internal development or external acquisitions — and be skeptical of repurchase programs financed by debt rather than profits.

The Big Squeeze: How Compression Threatens Old Industries

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 16 min 

Accelerating compression of both revenues and profits may rapidly prove fatal to traditional businesses. Consider the accelerating decline of voice calls as a means of communicating via mobile telephone: From 2013 to 2015, average mobile voice revenue per user declined globally by 19%, and a further decline of 26% is expected through 2020. To stave off disaster, incumbents must transform and renew their core operations — while also growing into new businesses and industries.

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