Corporate Finance & Governance | Financial Planning | Leadership / Management

Top risks … er, opportunities … for 2009

Risk It's the holiday season, which means it's time for the traditional Year in Review. So how shall we describe 2008?

Let's see ... "depressing" comes to mind. So does "frightening." And "funereal." Also, "joyless," "dispiriting," "bleak" and "dejecting." I could go on. Hey, I've got Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus in front of me. Don't tempt me.

On second thought, maybe a Year in Review isn't such a good idea after all.

Instead, let's look ahead to the opportunities that await us in 2009. And to help us do that, I'm turning to a couple of lists that examine the coming year from separate but related angles.

First up is Ernst & Young's 2009 Business Risk Report, which lists the 10 biggest risks facing global businesses in the coming year.

"Risks?" you say. "They don't sound much like opportunities to me."

On the contrary. Every risk brings countless opportunities. It's the whole lemons-into-lemonade thing. Successful businesses find the opportunities behind every risk and take advantage of them.

Anyway, E&Y ranks the credit crunch as the top risk, followed by regulation and compliance and the deepening recession. Other notable risks on the list include cost-cutting, managing talent and "radical greening" -- presumably in response to climate and environment concerns.

Corporate finance folks have their own set of issues to address, according to Financial Executives International. FEI has released its list of the top challenges (again, read "opportunities") for financial executives in 2009. Among them: the global economic crisis, fair-value measurements, new XBRL mandates, the move toward international financial reporting standards, and complexity in financial reporting.

In fact, the issues are strikingly similar to those outlined in an earlier post by our own Tom Hood.

So there seems to be some consensus on the issues that businesses will face in the coming months. Less certain are the steps they'll take to make the most of those issues. That'll be the fun part -- seeing who finds the opportunities and turns them into gold.

We'll be addressing many of these issues at our second annual Maryland Business and Accounting Expo on June 16-17 in Baltimore.

In the meantime, tell us the biggest risks you'll face in 2009 -- and how you plan to overcome them.


Bill Sheridan