SLID, ACCA, and CFA Society Sri Lanka Holds Virtual Roundtable Series on Corporate Governance and Digital Adoption

September 15, 2021

Ever since COVID emerged, the world expected to undergo changes but little did we know just how extensive these changes would be, with one of the most beneficial outcomes being rapid digital adoption across the globe. This was the topic of the recent webinar hosted by SLID, ACCA, and CFA Society Sri Lanka, titled ‘Governing the New Normal: Adopting Digital’.

The webinar served as the first in a series of virtual roundtable discussions planned by the three institutions, bringing together a panel of individuals with a diverse pool of expertise, comprising of   Independent Non-Executive Director, D. Soosaipillai, Executive Director - Corporate Governance & Group Financial Advisor Jahanara Sajjad Ahmad, Venture Capital HBL Head Yusuf Hussain, and CFA Institute Director - Capital Markets Policy, India Sivananth Ramachandran, CFA.

The webinar was launched by SLID CEO Radika Obeysekere, who commented on the timeliness of the topic, given how quickly digital transformation has taken hold in the new normal.

The webinar hoped to provide regional insights on the transformation journey, opportunities, risks, and what this means for the modern-day directors and board directors. The session was moderated by Head of Policy, MESA, ACCA Pakistan Arif Mirza, who has over 30 years of experience in professional accountancy, taxation, sustainability, and more.

Several pertinent topics were covered in a Q&A format, where the panelists were asked to provide their valuable inputs on topics such as experiences governing on a company board during a pandemic; changes experienced during this period and permanent changes that could persevere after the pandemic ends; the rising levels of e-commerce and online businesses; the use of technology to mitigate physical contact; how boards are reacting to staff working remotely; increases in e-filing and lowering paper trails; technology as a major pawn in corporate strategy and the roles of CFOs, CTOs and CIOs; and the importance of cybersecurity in such a critical time, among others.

Mrs. Jahanara Sajjad Ahmad of Venture Capital HBL stated how the Pakistani regulators came to the aid of businesses struggling to survive, by reducing the financial costs of companies across sectors. She said that this resulted in increased cashflows to be utilized for investment in other sectors, leading to companies expanding into previously uncharted territory—one of which is very much the tech sphere.

The speakers further outlined how digitization that was set to take place over 6 years had accelerated to 6 months, boosting economic efficiency and productivity, opening up markets, reducing transaction costs, delivering education and health to the doorstep.  However, it was agreed that perhaps the most troubling of issues, cybersecurity, poses a bigger threat now more than ever before. When asked what could be done to overcome this hurdle, the response that was unanimously agreed upon was in imposing better data privacy and protection laws.

On a company level, the speakers stated that certain precautions are also required, such as ensuring software is up to date across the board and that boards required to be proactive in the selection process when it comes to building tech infrastructure and also be wary of third-party data issues as well.

The webinar concluded successfully with an enlightening Q&A session with the attendees, where the panelists provided their experiences and insights into a series of questions, officially jumpstarting the series that is set to provide valuable knowledge on strengthening corporate governance in one of the most challenging times in recent history.


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