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The corporate board of directors is a group of well-meaning, part-time amateurs, trying to monitor, control and assure the work of the full-time professional managers who actually run the corporation.  That means at best, your board will be several steps behind in having an accurate, current, complete insight into the company, its operations, its finances, and its dangers.  At worst, you could, sometime in the future, find yourself giving a deposition trying to prove that you never noticed something regulators, attorneys, and shareholders in retrospect say should have been obvious.
The best practice board must have effective financial and operational controls.  Unfortunately, most internal controls are set up for the use of financial, compliance, legal or other staff… and not the board.  Our program looks at how your board should structure itself for effective risk oversight; where hidden dangers are most often found; internal risks the board must watch for; and how to shape reporting and corporate controls that give you the info you need, when you need it.

  • Role of the board in company risk management
  • Structuring board/board committees for risk oversight
  • Specific risk areas boards must monitor
  • The corporate financial, legal, operational control information that boards work with
  • How “corporate controls” can be made more board usable
  • How boards and directors can shape their own corporate monitoring tools

  • How does the board assure systems that give them good risk oversight?
  • Shaping a board-based risk assessment process.
  • How good is the risk intelligence management gives you?
  • What are “key risk indicators” for your business?
  • Dangers from your employees and systems.
  • Designing corporate controls that are “board friendly.”
  • Outside risks – partners, suppliers and tough new anti-corruption laws.
  • The new world of IT risk, and the board oversight role.
  • Are some of your biggest risks sitting around the board table?

From financial crises, to corporate scandals, to pandemics, to "black swan" dangers, the past decade has seen too many of the world's companies shocked by risks and exposures.  Yet the board’s independent directors face many risk oversight obstacles.  They spend too little time in the workings of the company… management has many incentives to assure boards that everything is fine… the information directors see is often stale, limited, or hard to follow… and vital corporate financial and operational controls are designed for the use of managers (not the board).  How can your board build effective risk management oversight into its skills?

  • Corporate board members
  • Nonprofit corporate leaders
  • Private and family firm board members
  • Corporate secretaries.
  • Corporate counsel
  • Venture capital and private equity partners.

Ralph Ward is an internationally-recognized speaker, writer, and advisor on the role of boards of directors, how “benchmark” boards excel, setting personal boardroom goals, and the future of governance worldwide.  
Ward is publisher of the online newsletter Boardroom INSIDER, the worldwide source for practical, first-hand tips for better boards and directors (  He also edits The Corporate Board magazine ( the nation's leading corporate governance journal, with subscribers who are directors and senior officers across the U.S. and in 27 foreign countries.
He is author of six acclaimed books on board and governance for today’s corporate boards, the challenges they face, and the answers they need to excel: • Board Seeker Guidebook (2018) • Boardroom Q&A (2011) • The New Boardroom Leaders (2008) • Saving the Corporate Board (2003) • Improving Corporate Boards (2000) • 21st Century Corporate Board (1997)

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