2021 is shaping up to be another turbulent year for companies and their boards as COVID-19 continues to redefine business. The events and crises of 2020—COVID-19, recession, extreme weather events, deep-seated social unrest and an increasingly polarized America—paint a picture of a daunting and opaque business and risk environment for the coming year.
Drawing on insights from the Board Leadership Center’s ongoing work and interactions with corporate directors and business leaders, On the 2021 board agenda and On the 2021 audit committee agenda highlight topics for directors to keep high on their agendas as they help their companies navigate the uncertainty ahead.
“Boards need to keep a sharp focus on people, liquidity, operational risks and contingencies while also keeping sight of the bigger picture: strategy, risk and resilience,” said John Rodi, leader of the KPMG Board Leadership Center. “COVID-19 will continue to redefine business as usual for nearly all companies. Corporate growth and shareholder return still require the essentials—managing key risks, innovating, capitalizing on new opportunities and executing on strategy—but the context for corporate performance is changing quickly and the global health crisis has accelerated that change.”
Audit committees need to prioritize their agendas, noted Stephen Dabney, leader of KPMG’s Audit Committee Institute.
“With COVID-19 and many other risks prompting audit committees to reassess the scope of their agendas and risk oversight responsibilities, maintaining focus on financial reporting and audit quality will require vigilance,” said Dabney. “Audit quality is enhanced by a fully engaged audit committee that sets the tone and expectations for the external auditor and monitors performance vigorously.”