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MISSION:INTANGIBLE, the blog of the Intangible Asset Finance Society, offers critical comments on intangible asset, corporate reputation, and finance; supplemented by quantitative reputation metrics. Intangible assets include business processes, patents, trademarks; reputations for ethics and integrity; quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience; and comprise 70% of the average company's value. MISSION:INTANGIBLE is a registered trademark of the Intangible Asset Finance Society.

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Reputation of Global Economy Impaired

C. HUYGENS - Monday, May 29, 2017
US consumers’ trust deficit is permanent, expectations reset, #reputation impaired. #risk

As Allianz’s chief economic adviser Mohamed El-Erian puts it: “You cannot underestimate the economic and political effects of the profound loss of trust that the public has had in the core managers of the global system.” Rebuilding that trust would be the best kind of fiscal stimulus. But it will require heavy lifting.

Read more in the Financial Times.

Activists Seek to Exploit Misplaced Expectations

C. HUYGENS - Thursday, May 18, 2017
A tsunami of emotionally charged disappointed stakeholders expected: #reputation #risk looks like this.

In a letter to investors earlier this month, explaining why they were opening to new capital, Mr Singer said he believes “that there has never been a larger (and more undeserved) spirit of financial market complacency in our experience”.

Read more from the Financial Times:

Expectations for Cyber Security

C. HUYGENS - Saturday, May 13, 2017
Reputation risk results from emotionally charged disappointment brought on by perceived failures in ethics, innovation, quality, safety, sustainability and security. Patients and regulators expect reasonable security; known vulnerabilities create #reputation #risk. Use NIST 800-53.

Authorities around the world are scrambling to tackle one of the most virulent cyber attacks to date, as fears mount over the safety of huge amounts of sensitive data, ranging from medical records to corporate databases. Hospitals across the UK have been severely disrupted; postal delivery and logistics services hit in the US and university networks in China shut down. Some of Europe’s biggest companies have been affected, including Telefónica, the Spanish mobile phone giant, Deutsche Bahn, the German national railway operator and Renault, the French carmaker. Russia’s interior ministry said more than 1,000 of its computers had been taken offline.

Read more in the Financial Times.

Expectations for the Short Haul

C. HUYGENS - Friday, May 12, 2017
#reputation #risk. CEOs in UK can expect a short run; are long-term incentives less valuable?

Average time heading a company can seem short, but CEOs may be cheered to know that their staying power compares favourably with UK football managers, whose average tenure is 1.23 years.

Read more in the Financial Times.

Expectations for Quality Accounting

C. HUYGENS - Thursday, May 11, 2017
#risk Alan Greenspan noted in 2008 that in a business based on trust, #reputation has significant value.

The UK’s accounting watchdog has fined professional services firm PwC a record £5m for “misconduct” in relation to the audit of Connaught, a FTSE 250 social housing maintenance group put into administration in 2010.…The latest ruling is another blow to PwC’s reputation following its Oscars envelope mishap and a $3.1bn legal battle with MF Global in the US.

Read more in the Financial Times.

Silicon Valley Reputation At Risk Over Trust

C. HUYGENS - Monday, May 08, 2017
Talk about emotionally-charged disappointment: “From terrorist content, sexism claims and trolls to mind-reading privacy invasion, unpaid tax and robots taking jobs, the charge sheet is growing rapidly. Technology executives risk attracting an opprobrium that is traditionally reserved for bankers.”

From terrorist content, sexism claims and trolls to mind-reading privacy invasion, unpaid tax and robots taking jobs, the charge sheet is growing rapidly. Technology executives risk attracting an opprobrium that is traditionally reserved for bankers. Stories have emerged of tech billionaires building bunkers in New Zealand to hedge against a revolt by the 99 per cent.

Until recently, the technology sector has been more trusted than any other. In the latest Edelman annual survey, 76 per cent of people trust technology companies, compared with about 60 per cent for most industries and 54 per cent for finance.

That trust underpins Silicon Valley’s economic miracle almost as much as the technology. The halo of pioneering innovation for the advancement of humankind — embodied by Apple’s “think different” slogan and Google’s “don’t be evil” motto (now abandoned) — makes consumers feel good.

Read more in the Financial Times.

Accounting Scandals Put the Big Four on the Spot

C. HUYGENS - Thursday, May 04, 2017
"...there is a wide gap between auditors’ own idea of how far their responsibilities stretch and the expectations of investors and the general public."

From the shambles of the Oscars ceremony to the more serious matters of US lawsuits and UK regulatory investigations, it has been a difficult year for PwC. Its rival KPMG is hardly faring better. The Big Four accountancy firm was castigated by Senator Elizabeth Warren for failing to spot dubious practice at the lender Wells Fargo. Now its auditing of Rolls-Royce is under investigation in the UK after the engineering company admitted bribery and corruption offences going back 20 years.

These scandals are not on the grand scale of the Enron fraud, which led to Arthur Andersen’s demise. Yet they highlight the failure of the accountancy profession and its regulators to resolve, in the intervening 15 years, the fundamental question of how far auditors should be expected to go in their efforts to uncover bad behaviour.

Read more in the Financial Times.

Scotland's Reputation: Just watch what they do.

C. HUYGENS - Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Andrew Carnegie, one of Scotland's better known American transplants, famously said, "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say, I just watch what they do." So while the opinion polls suggested a close plebiscite, the Scots' vote favored the union by 10%. Scotland's reputation as one of four upstanding united kingdoms was preserved.

Not necessarily so. As Consensiv's Jonathan Salem Baskin points out, the electorate has voted. Now watch what other stakeholders do -- evidenced by the value of foreign direct investment, tax impact of immigration, business start up and expansion rates, risk premium on sovereign debt; and by what concessions the local Scottish government needs to make to optimize the above.

Read more.

What Does Happiness Have to Do With Reputation?

C. HUYGENS - Thursday, August 07, 2014
OK, class. Together, please: Reputation comes from expectations, and value comes from stakeholder behaviors. Now the long form: Corporate reputation is the sum of stakeholder expectations of corporate performance, which leads stakeholders to behave in financially-relevant ways, such as how creditors set borrowing rates, suppliers set terms, customers respond to prices, how effectively employees work, and how severely regulators impose penalties. To better understand how expectations lead to behavior, it is helpful to know that according to researchers, our emotional states are tied to our expectations.

This may not come as a shocker, but "disappointment squelches happiness." Look no farther than the violent reaction to BP four years ago to understand what over promising and under delivering can look like in the extreme. But this other observation may not be as intuitive: "expectations affect happiness long before the reward." In casino parlance, people "act on the come." And what helps establish expectations? That's right. Reputation.

There's more for those in the communications field. It appears that expectations are reset moment to moment based on immediate experiences; happiness follows. This observation suggests that annual surveys of stakeholder sentiment are as useful in day to day management of reputation as are balance sheets in day to day management of cash flows. As one colleague quipped, "How do your account reconciliations fall behind by twelve months? One day at a time."  

(Updated on 8 Aug from the original posting .)

Read more from NPR.

GM: Beating the odds at 1 in 6000

C. HUYGENS - Wednesday, July 09, 2014
In a game of heads you win, tails I lose, the only strategy is land a coin on its edge. According to Daniel Murray and Scott Teare writing in Physical Review E, the probability of an American nickel landing on edge is approximately 1 in 6000 tosses.

In a game of bet-the-company, those aren't great odds. Caught between customers and victims who wanted open ended compensation, and creditors and investors who wanted to protect GM's assets from open compensation, CEO Mary Barra was bound to anger at least one key stakeholder group -- and therefore lose. As the metrics below report, she beat the odds and successfully delighted both.

According to the reputation analysis published by Consensiv, the reputation controls company, based on reputation value metrics from Steel City Re, the reputation insurer, GM's reputation benefitted from the appointment of Kenneth Feinberg to oversee GM's compensation fund.

The bump to observe on the graph begins around June 15th, the week Google Trends shows a significant and steady uptake in Google search interest in Kenneth Feinberg. That same week witnessed the beginning of an uptick in the reputation metrics. GM’s reputation premium, a measure of additional value arising from favorable stakeholder expectations, rose to the 46th percentile within the 37-member automotive peer group, while the consensus trend, a measure of stakeholder surprise, showed a reasonable increase up to 1.2%.

Of course, the company’s overall reputation health is still middling.

The strategy Barra used has a name. Read all about it at Risk & Insurance or at Business Insurance.

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