Poll by global broker finds that local business leaders are putting increasing emphasis on compliance and risk management

Despite the continuing fall-out from the global recession, corporate governance is still a largely undeveloped discipline in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a new poll by Marsh.

At a seminar focusing exclusively on strategic risk management in Abu Dhabi, an overwhelming majority (92%) of delegates at the Marsh Risk Consulting event stated that corporate governance was not well developed in the UAE. Starkly, only 8% of respondents felt confident enough to state that corporate governance is ‘developed’ in the region and none felt it was ‘well developed’. By contrast, 88% of respondents stated that risk management is ‘very relevant’ to non-financial organisations in the UAE.

Commenting on the findings of the survey, Eddie McLaughlin Head of Strategic Risk for Marsh Risk Consulting in EMEA, said: “Among the lessons that many organisations are learning as a result of the global recession are the fundamental necessity for governance frameworks and the ability to anticipate and protect themselves against uncertainties which prevent them from achieving their objectives. Businesses in the UAE are no different and greater emphasis should be placed on risk management and improving corporate governance in the long term.”

Domenic Antonucci, an Abu Dhabi-based Managing Consultant in Marsh Risk Consulting added: “Although corporate governance may still be undeveloped in the Emirates, the signs are encouraging. The vast majority of our delegates understand and believe in the importance of good risk management, regardless of their sector, and the benefits that it can bring to their organisations in terms of not just compliance but also competitive advantage and influencing an organisation’s total cost of risk and cost of capital.”

Over 60 senior delegates representing Abu Dhabi-based organisations, ranging from oil and gas, tourism, sovereign wealth funds, construction and banking, attended the event at the Abu Dhabi Hilton on 19 November 2009, which was organised by Marsh Risk Consulting and supported by Standard and Poor’s. The Standard & Poor’s presentation emphasised the importance of enterprise risk management and its role on rating agency assessments in the future.