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The management accountants by tyndale



The management

                   hat makes certain          stantial marketing effort and a strong        the right performance indicators for a
                   accounting       innova-   brand image, but our research suggests        particular business – and these things
                   tions stick while others   that the balanced scorecard has proved        can change as the business matures.
                   quickly vanish? Some       sustainable because of its flexibility and    To some extent, what you measure and
                   people have argued         malleability – i.e. the principles underly-   how you measure it will define success-
that it’s because many new practices          ing a scorecard, whether that’s Robert        ful behaviour: it might be margins, it
are merely fads that emerge on the back       Kaplan’s and David Norton’s original ver-     might be sales or it might be managing
of high-profile marketing campaigns. In       sion or some other variant, can be used in    your cost base. But the beauty about the
2002, for example, Anthony Hopwood,           different ways by different organisations.    scorecard is that it tries to do all of those
then director of the Said Business School     And, importantly, these different uses can    things together.’
in Oxford, expressed concerns about the       provide a breadth of understanding on a           Managers clearly value the balanced
‘homogenising tendencies of consultan-        wide variety of issues. Balanced score-       scorecard’s malleability compared with
cy firms’ and ‘careerist research’ that       cards give their users a rounded view of      that of many other management tools,
encouraged organisations to ‘focus on the     business activity, rather than a narrow       which tend to be more constrained in
fashionable rather the enduring’.             focus on a small number of performance        what they offer. Despite this, the score-
    There has been a considerable debate      measures.                                     card needs to clock up a few more years
as to why the balanced scorecard has              Several of our interviewees comment-      of popularity before it can be mentioned
remained popular over an impressive           ed positively on this attribute. For exam-    in the same breath as the profession’s
number of years. Some people have             ple, one respondent told us, ‘As a man-       most enduring innovation: double-entry
attributed its durable appeal to a sub-       agement accountant, you help to devise        bookkeeping.

                                                                                THE MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANT’S ROLE

                                                                                        nique is hard to question; it’s not that it
                                                                                        was flawed,” he told us. “But you have got
                                                                                        to be able to marry two things up. One is
                                                                                        that the technique actually leads you to
                                                                                        the right conclusion – and it certainly did.
                                                                                        The other is that it’s something that will
                                                                                        work within your organisation.”
                                                                                             Sustainable change may be about
                                                                                        being on the move all the time, but it
                                                                                        also requires some element of stability.
                                                                                        For example, management accountants
                                                                                        must retain their prudence and a criti-
                                                                                        cal eye, adhering to professional norms
                                                                                        and regulatory requirements. They will
                                                                                        still have to identify the information that
                                                                                        their organisations really need – mate-
                                                                                        rial that is useful, trustworthy and under-
                                                                                        standable. In doing so, they have to be
                                                                                        wary of the rhetoric and hard selling of
                                                                                             tomorrow’s innovations, but at the
                                                                                                  same time be able to influence col-
                                                                                                    leagues who will be affected by
                                                                                                       such innovations.
                                                                                                             The following comment
                                                                                                          by one interviewee high-
                                                                                                          lights these points well.
                                                                                                         ‘Everyone wants an instant
                                                                                                       cure, but you should steer
                                                                                                     away from that kind of quick
                                                                                              fix. You need to get more into how
                                                                                        you apply the new techniques you have
                                                                                        learned in the most practical and appro-
                                                                                        priate way for your business.’
                                                                                             Much of the professional literature
                                                                                        about management accounting innova-
MAKING SENSIBLE CHOICES ABOUT ADOPTING INNO-                                            tions is indeed filled with marketing hype
VATIONS AND DRIVING THOSE CHOICES TO THE                                                promising quick fixes for multiple busi-
                                                                                        ness problems. Such solutions rarely,
IMPLEMENTATION STAGE IS LIKELY TO BECOME A                                              if ever, ‘optimise’ in practice. One-size-
                                                                                        fits-all methods fail because they ignore
KEY ROLE OF MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANTS.                                                     far too much of the stuff of life, such as
                                                                                        organisational culture, values, norms and
                                                                                        power. We believe that a key role for man-
    We believe that tomorrow’s manage-     management accountants. It may well          agement accountants is to be discriminat-
ment accountants should try to under-      stretch their technical abilities and also   ing and circumspect when considering
stand the varied opportunities that        require a grasp of the broader implemen-     the many new approaches on offer. They
innovative new methods can offer. They     tation issues involved – e.g. how they       need to be more critical and try to under-
should use their understanding to shape    affect the way an organisation behaves.      stand innovations in their wider contexts.
how such innovations are modified and      This is borne out by the comments of         Great new ideas can mean little when the
applied locally. Making sensible choices   an interviewee who reflected on a failed     situation to which they are being applied
about adopting innovations and driving     attempt to introduce a new management        is rife with complexity.
those choices to the implementation        accounting technique to his company.              Once management accountants have
stage is likely to become a key role of        “The intellectual merit of the tech-     decided carefully which innovations to

                                                                                          DECEMBER 2009 | ACCOUNTANTS TODAY       39

use, they need to ensure that these are
widely understood in the organisation.
Thoughtful communication is important
here. As one interviewee said, ‘The lan-
guage test needs to be passed. It requires
simple language more than brilliant ideas
– simple language that 400,000 workers
can connect to.’
    The same respondent reflected on
some of the more important issues that
arose at his firm when it implemented
a scorecard. “The reason why it has
worked for us is that we got most of
the implementation pointers right,” he
explained. “It’s all about how you capture
the hearts and minds of people so that
they realise it’s something they should
take seriously.”
    We questioned recent
claims that a new breed of
management accountants
has emerged, the so-called
business partner. We argued that
there is still much to be said for the
preservation of ‘traditional’ management
accounting. Taking this argument a step      WE SUGGEST THAT ONE OF THE MAIN FUTURE CHALLENGES
further, we suggest that business part-
nering might be a fad. Maybe it is only
                                             FOR MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANTS WILL BE TO TRY TO FUSE
the fantasy of those who are seeking a       THEIR MORE TRADITIONAL, BASIC AND ‘UNEXCITING’ TRAITS
new image, since the core values of the
traditional management accountant have       WITH THE DEMANDS OF BEING A BUSINESS PARTNER.
never really disappeared.
    Joan Luft, professor of accounting
and information systems at Michigan          he told us. ‘First of all, at the more junior   ble for the funding of the business. I have
State University, hinted at this in her      levels in the organisation, they do collate     to go to the City, I have to talk to share-
lectures when she was CIMA’s visiting        the numbers; they do keep the accounts          holders and I have to do the nitty-gritty
professor in 2006. She contended that        – old-fashioned things like that. They pay      finance bits as well.”
tomorrow’s management accountant             the bills and produce the management
needed to be less of an ‘enabler’ because    accounts, which include a lot of the infor-
that role served to ‘stoke the fires of      mation for the scorecard. So at one level
over-optimism’. Luft argued that the role    they do that, but then within the teams         management accounting at the Gothenburg
should instead be that of a corporate        the hope is that they are part of the man-
brake, which called for accountants to be    agement team running the business. You          management and accountancy at the
neutral and pessimistic.                     are collectively responsible for the busi-
    We suggest that one of the main future   ness, but you have got to do the basics in
challenges for management accountants        everything. I have no qualms about the          Aarhus. Robert Scapens is a professor of
will be to try to fuse their more tradi-     fact that the accountants still do keep the
tional, basic and ‘unexciting’ traits with   score. That is a big part of the job.”          of Groningen and emeritus professor at the
the demands of being a business partner.         “As FD, I sit around the table, equal
In this respect, we were interested to       with all the other executives as a business     first appeared in Financial Management,
hear the comments of one of the finance      person. And I have my say – the same as         a monthly magazine published by CIMA
directors we interviewed.                    everybody else – on all sorts of issues.        (Chartered Institute of Management
    “You’ve always got to do the basics,”    But at the same time I am also responsi-        Accountants) for its members.


Majella Gomes

          xactly what does this discipline     These tools allow the consideration of             Continuous and disciplined assess-
          entail? It means relooking at        short and long-term strategic positioning,     ment of strategic position allows more
          strategic positioning, planning      and by tracking changes over time, deci-       coherent planning. Leader of organisa-
          and execution; and analysing         sion-makers will have a clearer context        tions should have their ears constantly to
          how to maintain long-term strat-     for their course of action.                    the ground to know what is happening,
egy in a depressed economy. Companies                                                         and see how they can benefit from it.
may need to consider going back to                                                            It helps to evaluate one’s position, then
basics, and applying traditional processes       The organisation should ask itself           speculate and project what might happen.
and disciplines to cope with the reces-          some key questions, such as:                 For example, how would the organisation
sion.                                               What internal or external factors         respond to a fall in market share, or a new
                                                    should we monitor?                        product that enters the market, cash fall-
Don’t lose focus                                    Are we being optimistic or pessi-         ing below critical levels, or a new regula-
                                                    mistic, realistic or relying on wishful   tion coming into effect?
     Typically, top-level strategy sets out         thinking?
the main organisational goals. Divisions,           What information is valuable to
                                                    decision-making in a downturn?
                                                                                              The need for options
subsidiaries and departments should also
have strategies which are aligned to the            How reliable is this information?              Having a range of options that have
                                                    Who is responsible for monitoring
overall business goals. Staying focused                                                       been thought through is critical when it
                                                    our strategic positioning?
on strategic positioning and having a               How are those responsible being           comes to keeping a competitive advan-
well-structured approach to identifying             monitored?                                tage. Limited resources (in times of
and exploiting trends helps boards and              How is the information they gather        recession) mean that organisations have
finance teams make informed decisions.              or assess being monitored?                to focus on decisions that will alter their
    The board should always make time               How much time should we spend             structure or activities. These options
to evaluate strategic positioning, with par-        on discussing strategic position-         could include outsourcing, investing in
ticular emphasis on future trends. This             ing?                                      new technology, opening new offices,
can be done by analysing key perform-               What plans can we make to respond         launching new products, and acquiring or
                                                    to changes?
ance indicators (KPIs) or applying other                                                      disposing of businesses.
                                                    Are we able to move quickly and
techniques such as STEEPLE (social,                                                               Prioritise your options. Those that
                                                    decisively if the situation requires
technological, environmental, ethical,              it?                                       seem less likely should be lower down
political and legal) or SWOT analysis.                                                        on the list, although you should still


keep them in view. Bear in mind that
options could also include downsizing,
closing down offices, cutting back on
capacity or selling off assets – but in a
downturn, there are also opportunities
for growth. Options should be tested for
feasibility, analysed for costs, benefits,
flexibility, stakeholder impact and long-
term effects.
     Experts in the field emphasise that
strategy requires ownership at all levels;
it isn’t just the province of management.
The more people know about it, and
support the ideas, the more likely it is
to work. It is a good idea to simultane-
ously think about and execute strategy.
But simultaneously conceptualising and
implementing it is a double-edged sword,
and involves some nifty balancing.

Managing strategy
     Ideally, strategy will move the organi-
sation to a higher level but it can be dis-
astrous if it fails, and the harsh reality is
that there is any number of reasons why it
doesn’t achieve what it was meant to. The
cornerstone of strategic implementation
is good project management. Firstly, eve-
ryone should be clear on the desired out-
come. They should understand what they
are doing, why they are doing it, and how
their work contributes to the strategy.
     Secondly, the implementation should
be marked with a series of milestones
which build up towards the final outcome.
Thirdly, these milestones (or deadlines)
should be time-driven because any delays
can add to cost and have a detrimental
impact on long-term strategy. Fourthly,
define explicit quality standards and budg-
ets for the implementation of the strategy.
Finally, strong leadership and accounta-
bility are required. The person(s) respon-
sible should be named.

The role of technology
       The role that technology plays in
business today is more significant than
ever before. Information technology is no
longer confined to back office functions;
it is now central to operations throughout
the organisation, including front-line and


customer services. It is therefore hard-      planning, decision trees, sensitivity analy-    the long run. It helps to look at what the
er to reduce spending on long-term IT         sis, and the software that supports this.       competitors are doing – how and where
projects like e-commerce, electronic bill-    The board should be fully apprised of the       other companies are cutting costs, how
ing or payments, or human capital man-        strengths and weaknesses of the organi-         their resources are being redeployed, and
agement. Indeed, these may be some of         sation, to determine if the strategies can      how the markets are shifting. Cost-cutting
the best components to help the business      succeed. Leadership, communication,             in difficult times is something that needs
survive the downturn.                         open-mindedness and the ability to hold         to be thought through and strategised for
    Successfully holding to corporate         to the course when everybody else is            before companies hit that inevitable rough
strategy under stress requires discipline,    going off at a tangent are prerequisites        patch; it shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction
thought and careful analysis of the cur-      for the job.                                    dictated by market forces.
rent environment. Organisations that
don’t identify and consider strategic risks   Resist the urge to                              Lessons learned
created by a downturn are much less           downsize
likely to survive because they will, in                                                            To complicate matters, Boards often
most cases, be only reacting to events             One of the first cost-cutting measures     approve cost reduction programmes with-
as they happen, not anticipating them or      that organisations consider in a downturn       out considering the impact on middle
making plans to manage them.                  is layoffs – but this involves substantial      management, which has to operationalise
                                              risk, especially when you have to balance       the policies. Research has shown that
Hard times, less risk?                        the fact that you may not have the same         many middle managers have only expe-
                                              level of skilled employees later on, when       rienced managing in a growing economy
     While many businesses can plan for       the post-recession situation requires you       – not one in a recession – and may not
natural disasters such as fire or flood, or   to ramp up operations. Trying to hire           be able to effectively implement the cost-
even product recall, they find it difficult   when the economy is back on track may           cutting measures dictated by company
to anticipate the problems that may arise     turn out to be a more expensive (and frus-      policy.
from improper or inadequate strategic         trating) proposition, than keeping valu-            Certainly, doing business in today’s
planning. It may be to their advantage        able employees on the payroll throughout        economy is not a walk in the park. Danger
to hone their strategic risk management       the lean times.                                 lurks at every turn, waiting to snare the
skills. Risk management boils down to             Also, the legal risks associated with       unwary. What can businesses do to sur-
how much risk the company is prepared         reducing headcount are a veritable mine-        vive? Regardless of market conditions
to take during hard times.                    field; it can open the firm to risks that the   and an unstable global economy, there
    Management should be clear about          company truly cannot afford, regardless         is still time to strategise. Remember that
which risks it will take, and which are       of the state of the market – like allega-       all strategies had a starting point, and
definitely off limits, bearing in mind that   tions of age and gender discrimination,         often reflect the times in which they were
recessions sometimes are the best times       and how employees were selected for             formulated.
to expand, increase market share, launch      redundancy.                                         In an upturn, they would have prob-
new products or acquire assets which              Research shows that a lot of cost-          ably been upbeat and optimistic, with
would otherwise be too expensive. Again,      cutting programmes just don’t deliver the       perhaps a little less anticipation of hard
the key component here is having up-to-       numbers they were intended to. Instead,         times. The reverse applies to strategising
date, reliable information that will aid in   businesses should reconfigure to adapt to       in a recession. These are painful times,
decision-making.                              new market dynamics. Finding new effi-          but the experience, while bitter, is a great
    Information can be supplemented           ciencies within existing operations could       teacher – and what we take away from the
with a variety of tools including scenario    be more cost-effective and sustainable in       lesson, is up to us.



Red Curtain
Ng Poh Ling


        avigating through                                                               know that’s important. To do business in
                                                                                        China you have to make the right connec-
        China’s business                                                                tions i.e. meet the right people, develop
        environment can                      The Importance of Hierarchy                long-term relationships with them and
                                         The concept of hierarchy influences all        make sure that favours and generosity
sometimes prove to be                                                                   are reciprocated.           is probably the
                                         aspects of Chinese life and has a huge
more than a bumpy ride                   influence on the business environment.         most important single asset of any for-
for the uninitiated. Much                The individual is traditionally subordinate    eign business in China.
                                         to the organisation and the minority view           The main way of establishing
of the country’s business                is subordinate to the majority, hence the      is usually by introduction through a third
etiquette draws on its                   lower-ranked official is subordinate to his/   party. This may be one of your own
                                         her superior. Hierarchy determines who         Chinese employees, friends, or Malaysian
basic Confucian values and               enters a meeting room first, how introduc-     overseas missions. In a modern China it
concepts such as respect                 tions are made, how seating is arranged in     can also be through a simple meeting or a
                                         meetings and at dinners/banquets, who          trade event. These connections can come
for age and position, and
                                         speaks and who makes decisions.                from anywhere at any time.
importance is placed on                                                                      Similarly, a firm understanding of
group goals rather than                                                                 “mianzi” or ‘face’ is also essential. The
                                          is there to distinguish men from              concept is similar to ‘respect’. When
individualism. Being a                                                                  someone does something right and is
little prepared before your                  Establishing Contacts and
                                                                                        complimented, he gains face. If he is
                                                                                        embarrassed or makes a mistake, then
trip can save you a host                     Relationships                              he loses face. It’s important to avoid other
of embarrassments and                    Very often, when doing business in             people losing face if possible, and it’s a
possibly clinch you that                 China, one comes across “guanxi”, which        good idea to give them face, but equally,
                                         generally means connections. Ultimately,       it’s a good idea to increase your face as
deal.                                    it’s who you know and not what you             much as possible.



 rules of propriety, becomes rude-

      Ways To Increase Face

     restaurant and paying.

     a lot better than the one they give you,
     they’ve lost face).

     background knowledge

     partner speak English (though if their
     English is not up to par, using a trans-
     lator may help them save face), com-
     plimenting them, asking after their


Remember, even if the truth is uncom-
fortable, someone may not want to lose
face by saying it and this means that most
Chinese may be unwilling to say ‘no’ even
if they mean it.
                                                the most senior person in the group first.      approval of your business and who are
                                                It will be useful to keep the business cards    usually too senior to be involved in nego-
                                                of those at the meeting in front of you on      tiations at the business meeting. Take the
                                                the table for easy reference. The Chinese       opportunity to impress them and get to
                                                are tough and highly skilled negotiators        know them at dinner.
      Business Meetings                         and part of the reason for this is their             If the banquet is formal, be prepared to
                                                ability to think longer term. It is advisable   give a short, friendly speech in response
When in Rome, do as the Romans and
                                                to enter any meeting adequately prepared        to the host’s speech. While declining to
when in China, do as the Chinese do. The
                                                and with your key points firmly in mind.        taste a dish is not regarded as a cardinal
first person to enter the room is assumed
                                                Jackets and ties please, when in meetings       offence, try to sample every dish served
to be the head of the group. If the meet-
                                                and when invited out for meals.                 and if your host serves some food for you,
ing room has a large central table, the
                                                                                                reciprocate. Remember to always leave
principal guest is likely to be seated
                                                                                -               something on your plate even though the
directly across from the principal host.
                                                 pany of two other men, I am                    fare may be heavenly or your host may
      The Chinese always shake hands
                                                 bound to be able to learn from                 think you are still hungry.
when introduced to someone new.
                                                 them. The good points of the one
Business cards are always exchanged
and given with both hands. Take lots of
business cards with you as almost every-
one you meet will want to exchange one              Entertainment/Banquets                          Gifts
with you.
                                                Your business trip to China will consist        Gifts and gift-giving are integral to cre-
     Meetings start on time and it is good
                                                of at least one dinner or banquet.              ating and building relationships and
practice to arrive early. Begin with small
                                                means that there is still a need to mix         expressing friendship. Gifts are usually
talk and resist the temptation to talk shop
                                                business and pleasure and having a meal         exchanged at the end of the meeting or
right away. Address a person using the
                                                together is a way to establishing better        banquet. Present the gift to the leader
family name or title, such as Director Li,
                                                        with your potential partners.           of the Chinese negotiating team first
Mr. Chen or Ms. Wang.
                                                    You may meet very senior people             – the most important person in the group
     You will most likely be introduced to
                                                at the banquet who may be key to the            receives their gift first.

                                                                  DRAWING THE RED CURTAIN

 WHAT TO GIVE                              NUMBERS AND COLOURS TO AVOID
Unique gifts that represent Malaysia       There are traditional taboos around num-
or your company.                           bers. Some business people are especially
Pewter, batik or local handicraft.         sensitive to numbers in China, especially
                                           in the southern part of China.
Items with your corporate logo.
Coffee table books, picture books and          LUCKY NUMBERS:
calendars featuring Malaysian land-
scapes.                                        when pronounced in Chinese,
                                           3   especially Cantonese (spoken in
Items that can be displayed on walls
                                               Guangdong province and Hong
or in offices.
                                               Kong), sounds similar to the word
                                               for promotion or being promoted.
 WHAT TO AVOID                                 when pronounced in Cantonese is
Clocks - the pronunciation of the          6   similar to the word for happiness.
words “to give a clock” sounds simi-           when pronounced in Chinese,
lar to a phrase that means “sending        8   sounds like a similar word that
someone to the grave”.                         means prosperity.
Gifts in sets of four - the number four        when pronounced in Chinese,
is considered very unlucky, as the         168
                                               sounds like a similar phrase that
word is pronounced similarly to the            means money flowing in easily.
word for death.
Fans - the Chinese pronunciation
of ‘fan’ can also mean “to lose” and
                                               UNLUCKY NUMBERS
“death”.                                        TO BE AVOIDED:
Gifts of excessive value, making it dif-       when pronounced in Chinese,
ficult for your counterparts to recipro-
                                           4   sounds like the word for death
cate and risk causing loss of face.            (especially in Guangdong province
Cash - can be seen as bribery.                 and Hong Kong).
Knives or scissors - symbolise conflict.       when pronounced in Chinese,
                                           250 sounds like the word for dumb/
Items such as straw sandals or hand-
kerchiefs - associated with funerals
Empty boxes, even if they have been
carved or decorated, are considered
packages without a gift.

                                                              DECEMBER 2009 | ACCOUNTANTS TODAY   49

A.T. Kearney Releases the 2009 Ranking of Global Champions

Corporate Success in Changing
Environment Dependent on
Vision and Discipline

               new study by global man-       ed strategy to the transformed economic       immediate environment, and a relentless
               agement consulting firm        landscape were the ones that dominated.       focus on flawless execution.”
               A.T. Kearney, titled The       Companies like first-ranking Nintendo              The companies represent industries
               Global Champions for 2009,     [TOKYO EXCH 7974] and third-ranking           from electronics to heavy equipment,
               demonstrates that despite      Apple [NASDAQ:AAPL] are able to satis-        with no single industry sector dominant,
the meltdown in the financial markets,        fy new consumer demands for a simpler,        a stark contrast to the 2008 version of
companies that combine long-range stra-       yet more fulfilled lifestyle. Incidentally,   the study when the end of the “supercy-
tegic planning with nimble execution can      this is a trend we picked up pre-crisis       cle” in commodities buoyed the natural
still by far outperform the competition.      and is manifesting itself in the demand       resources industry. The return to funda-
     The 25 companies                                             for technologically       mentals precipitated by the recession led
in the A.T. Kearney                                               sophisticated,     yet    to a shifting geographic make-up of the
Global Champions for
                                   Companies that                 simple to use, prod-      list. While companies such as Mexico’s
2009, identified from
                                 were able to align               ucts. And businesses,     America Movil [MEXICO: AMXA]
the world’s 2,500 larg-
                                     a disciplined                like fourth-ranking       and India’s Reliance Industries [NSE:
est companies operating
                                  growth-oriented                 Doosan       [KOREA       RELIANCE] are two of only seven compa-
internationally, dramati-
                                    strategy to the               EXCH: 629467] have        nies that managed to maintain their status
cally outperformed their
                                      transformed                 been able to capital-     as Global Champions, the proportion of
peers during the five
                                        economic                  ise on government         companies headquartered in emerging
years ending with the
                                  landscape were                  mandates globally,        countries has dropped from 40 per cent in
stock market crash, aver-
                                     the ones that                to rebuild infrastruc-    2008 to less than a third in 2009.
aging nearly 15 per cent
                                       dominated.                 ture.”                         Laudicina pointed out that 20 per
growth annually from                                                  Laudicina further     cent of the Global Champions are on the
2004 through 2008, while the average for      observed that bigger was not necessarily      World Dow Jones Sustainability Index
the entire sample was an 8 per cent loss.     better. “The analysis shows that neither      and fully 40 per cent have signed the UN
(See ranking of top 25 on next page).         size nor market position is a necessary       Global Compact, compared to 30 per cent
     “The financial crisis has greatly accel- pre-condition for superior growth or a        of the Global 500. “This list is yet another
erated the rate of change in underlying       protection against market turbulence.         demonstration that sustainability is not in
global business conditions,” said Paul        Instead, the themes that emerge include       conflict with, or independent of, business
Laudicina, chairman and managing offic-       an in-depth understanding of what the         success. Rather, a focus on sustainability
er of A.T. Kearney. “Companies that were      market needed at a particular time, an        is a sign that the company is looking well
able to align a disciplined growth-orient-    extraordinary ability to plan beyond the      beyond the horizon.”

                                               A.T. KEARNEY RELEASES THE 2009 RANKING OF GLOBAL CHAMPIONS

                                                    THE 25 A.T. KEARNEY GLOBAL CHAMPIONS FOR 2009

                                               1.   Nintendo (Japan)                         [TOKYO EXCH 7974]
ABOUT THE 2009 GLOBAL                          2.   Google (United States)                   [NASDAQ: GOOG]
                                               3.   Apple (United States)                    [NASDAQ:AAPL]
To create the list, A.T. Kearney first
                                               4.   Doosan (South Korea)                     [KOREA EXCH: 629467]
calculates the median value growth rate
-the rise of market capitalisation after       5.   Hyundai Heavy Industries (South Korea)   [ KOREA EXCH: 644662]
subtracting any increase in capital and        6.   GDF Suez (France)                        [PARIS: GSZ]
the sales growth rate for the 2,500 larg-      7.   MTM (South Africa)                       [JSE: MTN]
est publicly listed companies around the
world. A.T. Kearney then only considers
                                               8.   Monsanto (United States)                 [NYSE: MON]
those companies with 2008 sales greater        9.   Inditex (Spain)                          [MCE: ITX]
than US$10 billion and at least 25 per cent    10. BHP Billiton (Australia)                  [AUSTRALIA:BHP]
of sales derived from outside their home
                                               11. Reliance Industries (India)               [NSE: RELIANCE]
region. In addition to having positive
value growth, the companies on the list        12. Jacobs Engineering (United States)        [NYSE: JEC]
also have above average (median) sales         13. World Fuel Services (United States)       [NYSE: INT]
growth.                                        14. Fouor (Unites States)                     [NYSE: FLR]
                                               15. ABB (Switzerland)                         [SWISS EXCH: ABBN]
ABOUT A.T. KEARNEY                             16. CNOOC (China)                             [NYSE: CEO]
A.T. Kearney is a global management            17. (United States)                [NASDAQ: AMZN]
consulting firm that uses strategic            18. America Movil (Mexico)                    [MEXICO: AMXA]
insight, tailored solutions and a collabora-   19. Occidental Petroleum (United States)      [NYSE: OXY]
tive working style to help clients achieve
sustainable results. Since 1926, they have     20. Teva Pharmaceutical (Israel)              [NASDAQ: TEVA]
been trusted advisors on CEO-agenda            21. Mapfre (Spain)                            [MCE: MAP]
issues to the world’s leading corporations     22. Petrobraz (Brazil)                        [SAO PAOLO: PETR3]
across all major industries. A.T. Kearney’s
                                               23. Kühne + Nagel (Switzerland)               [SWISS EXCH: KNIN]
offices are located in major business cen-
tres in 36 countries. For more informa-        24. Sasol (South Africa)                      [JSE: SOL]
tion, please visit                     .       25. Komatsu (Japan)                           [TOKYO EXCH: 6301]

                                                                                          DECEMBER 2009 | ACCOUNTANTS TODAY   51

                         Speak Softly,
                                         MOBILE PHONES ARE UBIQUITIOUS, BUT MOBILE
                                         ETIQUETTE HASN’T KEPT UP WITH THE SPREAD
                                         OF HANDHELDS. ANNE HASHIM LAYS DOWN A
                                         FEW COMMON SENSE RULES FOR MOBILE PHONE
                                         MANNERS TO SMOOTH BUSINESS AND SOCIAL
                                         INTERACTION  AND ENSURE THAT MOBILE
                                         MISDEMEANOURS DON’T COST YOU THAT VITAL
                                         BUSINESS DEAL.

                                                 t was the 2009 President’s Cup golf           Since the very first mobile phone was
                                                 championship, and Geoff Ogilvy and       introduced, the Motorola DynaTAC in 1985,
                                                 Ryo Ishikawa of the International        it’s been said that some 900,000 mobile
                                                 team were trying to catch up with        phones are sold every three days. The
                                                 Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.          number of text messages exchanged world-
                                         Just as Ogilvy stood over his putt for the       wide has also increased phenomenally from
                                         crucial stroke, a marshall’s phone went off.     17 billion in 2007 to an estimated 3.3 trillion
                                         It rang at least five different times because    by year-end.
                                         the offender wasn’t familiar with the work-           Further research conducted by the
                                         ings of his phone. He finally retreated out of   International Telecommunications Union
                                         sight to save himself from further embar-        predicted that the number of global mobile
                                         rassment, and to save the golfer’s game. He      phone subscribers would reach 4.6 billion
                                         was a little too late though; Ogilvy flubbed     by the end of 2009. That’s about two thirds
                                         the shot and eventually the championship.        of the world population getting connected to
                                             It’s a classic case of mobile misde-         mobile network services.
                                         meanor; albeit one that cost an interna-              On the Malaysian front, the Malaysian
                                         tional golfer a possible victory. As the world   Communications            and      Multimedia
                                         population becomes increasingly savvy with       Commission reported that mobile phone
                                         their mobile communications, there seems         penetration has exceeded 100% by the second
                                         to be increasing ignorance over proper           half of 2009, i.e. 28.5 million users. However,
                                         etiquette.                                       this doesn’t mean that every Malaysian is

                                                                                                                 SPEAK SOFTLY, LOVE

   When someone sends
   you a message, or if you’ve missed
   a call, it’s courteous to respond as
   soon as possible. Acknowledging a
   friend’s text message with a timely
   response, even if it’s short, is just plain
   good manners. Otherwise, y      you’ll be leaving
   your friend hanging onto a one-sided “con-

now a mobile-phone toting extraordinaire;      back with single alphabet responses, “K.” An
many just possess multiple network services    investment banker I know has the best sms
subscriptions under one name.                  etiquette. He projects his cheerful and jovial
    Given that the mobile revolution is        self via text even if it’s only to respond with a
spreading at the speed of light, adhering      simple “Great!” but his whole-hearted enthu-
to common courtesies would make com-           siasm is evident in that one exclamation.
mon sense if we are to function smoothly in
social and business circles. The following     RSVP III
rules are useful as a guide to better com-     It’s been said that we are living in an “instant”
munications and interpersonal tolerance in     world these days due to the fact that every-
high-technology societies:                     thing has to be done fast. This need to be
                                               swift at all times has even crept into our sms
DON’T SHOUT YOUR TEXT                          conversations. Words have been abbreviated
MESSAGE IN MY EAR,                             to the point that sms messages are becoming
PLEASE                                         like mini-puzzles to be deciphered. “Wl be
Nearly all written literature, whether they    l8. C u l8er k.” In the process, our language
be signages, newspapers or novels, use a       suffers. For such a progressive civilisation,
combination of upper and lower case, and       we certainly are regressing in our linguistic
for good reason, too. It’s been proved to be   quality.
easier on the eyes and makes things read-
able. In fact, uppercase texts are the least   RSVP IV
legible and are difficult to read. Moreover,   Back-and-forth sms-ing is cute if you’re
a text message written in ALL CAPS IS          lovebirds, but really, isn’t it more economi-
THE EQUIVALENT OF SHOUTING INTO                cal if one person called up the other and
SOMEONE’S EAR!                                 had a real conversation to sort out all those
                                               niggling questions? It can be irritating to
RSVP II                                        receive one sms after another on a topic
SMS may stand for short message service,       that could be otherwise best explained by
but there is a way to be brief without being   talking it out once and for all. Sure it lacks
dismissive or abrupt. Case in point, when      the romance, but you’d save a lot of time
you’ve texted somebody and they sms you        and money.

                                                                                                   DECEMBER 2009 | ACCOUNTANTS TODAY   53

                                                         WEIRD RINGTONES
                                       Even if you feel young at heart, it’s best to avoid
                                       setting one of those unusual ring tones on your
                                       phone. Yes, they may be funny or express your
                                       personal style, but when a call comes in sound-
                                       ing like somebody just let out gas, and worse,
                                       your boss is there to hear it, no one’s going to
                                       be amused then.

UPDATE STATUS                                      least, turn it off – during meetings, at impor-   your voice and transmit it to the other end
While it can’t be denied that mobile               tant sports games, during dinners, etc.           without you having to share your intimate
phones are the status symbols of today,                Even though they’ve been reminded             conversations with the rest of the world.
it doesn’t mean that we should flaunt it           many times to switch off, people still have
around indiscriminately. Do not dine with          their mobile phones on during meetings.           MULTITASKING
your limited-edition Blackberry arranged           Or worse, it buzzes discreetly and the            Multitasking is an over-rated virtue in
just so on the table, as though it were part       owner takes the call right in the middle          our society. When it comes to driving and
of the cutlery, for all to see. A little discre-   of the chairperson’s speech. If you really        talking/texting, it’s not advisable. Keep
tion is always classy.                             must take the call, excuse yourself and           your hands on the wheel and off those
                                                   step outside to talk.                             buttons, folks, because talking or texting
ODD-HOUR JOBS                                                                                        on the phone leads to distraction and
                                                   MEETINGS AND MOBILES                              Driving while Distracted (DwD) is the
It’s also become a fact of corporate life
that mobile phones have made us more               And I’m sure bosses everywhere will               leading cause of car accidents. In fact, a
accessible to our bosses. Many an execu-           agree that it’s annoying to chair a meeting       University of Utah study pointed out that
tive has been harassed to high-blood pres-         in which people aren’t paying attention.          the distraction from using a mobile phone
sure hell due to the constant calls from           Instead, their thumbs are busy keying             while driving is equivalent to having a
bosses who don’t practise Management               in a message into their phones. Sure,             0.08 per cent blood alcohol content which
by Delegation. Of course, if the company           they’ve got their phone on vibrate, and           is illegal in some US states. A further
is footing the bills, then the staff would         when a call comes in, the flatulent ring-         study by the Carnegie Mellon University
have to be at their beck and call, but even        ing tone is reduced to a table-shaking            found that the brain activity devoted to
so, there are limits. Nobody wants to have         buzz, but the fact that your mind is mak-         driving is reduced by 37 per cent when a
their family dinner or weekend getaway             ing a connection elsewhere on another             mobile phone is being used.
disrupted by a frantic phone call from the         person’s mobile just speaks of your utter             Most of the do’s and don’ts of mobile
boss. And please, no phone calls at 3 a.m.         disregard for the current assembly.               phone usage are just plain common sense
People are sleeping.                                                                                 and a sign of respect for those you are
                                                   SPEAK SOFTLY, LOVE                                talking to and those in your presence. It
TURNING IT OFF                                     Somehow, when we speak into our mobile            doesn’t matter if you own an iPhone or
                                                   phones, our voice automatically escalates         a Blackberry or the latest model in the
No matter how attached you are to your
                                                   several hundred decibels. Folks, it’s a           market; at the end of the day, I guess it’s
mobile phone, there are times when you
                                                   mobile phone, not a megaphone. It’s got           true what they say – you can buy prestige,
should just leave it at home, or at the very
                                                   a sensitive enough microphone to pick up          but you just can’t buy class!


             henever we get our medical
             checkup report, we will have
             an immediate sight towards
             any bold printed number
as it highlights our body’s warning sig-
nals. Come to blood test, every one of
us desires to have a pretty favourable                                      CATEGORIZE YOUR NUMBER
number for blood sugar. However, how
many of us do keep our blood sugar levels             CONDITION                          FPG (mmol/L)                 OGTT / RPG (mmol/L)
under control?                                        Normal (Optimal)                   ≤ 6.1                        ≤ 7.8
    In 2007, statistics from Persatuan
                                                      Borderline (Pre-Diabetes)          > 6.1 to < 7.0               > 7.8 to < 11.1
Diabetes Malaysia showed that nearly 1.2
million people in Malaysia have diabetes,             High (Diabetes)                    ≥ 7.0                        ≥ 11.1
with the number of people diagnosed
increasing by the day. Unfortunately, more
than half are not aware that they have the
disease. The World Health Organization
(WHO) states that the prevalence of dia-         * Random Plasma Glucose (RPG) Test measures blood glucose at any time of the day.
betes in Malaysia is expected to rise to
2,479,000 by 2030.                                      TYPES OF DIABETES
                                                 The two main types of diabetes are Type
                                                 I and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes,
                                                 formerly known as juvenile diabetes, is
High blood sugar or diabetes is a meta-          usually diagnosed in children, teenagers
bolic disease that is characterised by           and young adults. It is characterised by
excess amounts of glucose or sugar in the        a lack of insulin production from the pan-
bloodstream. Most of the food we ingest          creas. People with Type 1 diabetes must
will break down into glucose, a simple           take daily insulin injections to survive.                feet
sugar that is easily utilised by the cells for   Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-
growth and energy. In order for the sugar        onset diabetes, is the most common type,
to get into the cells, insulin - a hormone                                                                es that take a long time to heal
                                                 accounting for about 95% of all cases. The
secreted by the pancreas and more spe-           basic problem is that the body does not
cifically by the islets of Langerhans, must      produce enough insulin and/or the insu-
be present and circulate in the blood-           lin may not work properly because the
stream to bind with the insulin receptors                                                              POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS
                                                 cells become less responsive to insulin,
on the muscle, fat and liver cells, where it     a condition known as insulin resistance.            The complications associated with dia-
can be used as fuel. When our bodies can-                                                            betes are appalling. Improperly treated
not make insulin and/or do not use insu-                                                             diabetes will affect almost every part of
lin properly, excessive sugar will build up
                                                    SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES
                                                                                                     the body, leading to serious complica-
in the blood and this chronic condition          Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to             tions such as blindness, heart disease and
leads to diabetes.                               common signs and symptoms, including:               stroke, kidney failure, and nerve damage.

Baker’s yeast, fenugreek, bitter melon, gymnema, olive
leaf, and mistletoe are natural agents that provide various
nutrients with the potential to treat and possibly prevent
BAKER’S YEAST – Richest source of glucan (soluble fiber)
which is helpful in blood sugar control. Baker’s yeast has
been reported to help people who have problem with blood
sugar metabolism and may prevent diabetes from develop-
ing in persons with a family history of diabetes.
FENUGREEK – Contains an amino acid called 4-hydroxyiso-
leucine, which acts to stimulate insulin production when
blood sugar levels are high. It also appears to regulate blood
sugar by inhibiting the enzymes sucrase and amylase, which
help break down carbohydrates.
BITTER MELON – Excellent for regulating blood sugar due
to its ability to raise the production of pancreatic cells, which
is responsible for the insulin secretion. Study showed that an
aqueous extract of bitter melon fruits was found to decrease
blood sugar levels by 54%.
GYMNEMA – The herb’s active ingredient, gymnemic acid
has similar shape of a glucose molecule, thereby prevent-
ing the intestines from absorbing sugar molecules during
digestion. It is also believed to suppress the ability to detect
sweet tastes.
OLIVE LEAF – A natural phenolic antioxidant, oleuropein
helps lower blood sugar and subsequently prevents diabetes-
related cardiovascular damage. Clinical study showed that it
may reduce blood sugar up to 60% within three months.
MISTLETOE – A traditional diabetes treatment and for inter-
nal healing. Mistletoe extract can stimulate insulin secretion
from pancreas cells and may improve blood sugar levels in
people with diabetes.



  This article is contributed by VitaLife. For more information,
        please contact VitaLife at 03-7725 8881.

                                                                       DECEMBER 2009 | ACCOUNTANTS TODAY   57

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