Achieving effective board performance
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Case Study - Better Board Reporting

The Problem

The Non Executive Chair of a large insurer had had enough. He contacted us after seeing our open course "Improving Board Reporting" advertised. His goal was to improve the quality of the information the Board received and reduce the quantity of pages so that the issues for the Board to absorb and discuss were clear.  

The solution

We studied the last 3 Board Packs and realised that Solvency II was the principle culprit for vast amount of data along with analysis to support claims reserving. Whilst none of the information was unnecessary the main failings were that:-

  • Each area approached their Board Paper without reference to the others and in their own style
  • There was no common format that indicated quite mundane matters such as who the paper was from, why it was being presented and what was expected of the Board
  • Papers seemed to be copies of what had been presented to the Executive Committee with no regard for what the Board may find useful, thus background explaining the steps taken to reach this point were missing and detailed analysis was included without explanation
  • While Board Packs were sent out 4 working days before the Board they were often followed by updated or corrected papers very close to the meeting, sometimes the night before.

We met with all of the Directors to obtain their views of the usefulness of the current approach and what they would like to see by way of improvement. All thought that there was a better way but that regulation obstructed the aim to reduce the volume.

We met with the Chair and suggested that we:-

  • run a workshop for the whole Board, firstly explaining some techniques for layering information and addressing your audience
  • Work in syndicate groups on different sections of the Board pack looking at ways to isolate the key messages for the Board, discarding unnecessary detail and layering the information to address different readers. 
  • Introduce a standard template that all Board papers must follow in the future

He agreed and over the following month we ran two workshops and, after some amendment, gained buy in to the use of the template. Everyone understood the principles behind improving the pack and moved some way to thinking of ways to improving their own report.

The results

A Board meeting took place 3 weeks after the workshops and we contacted the Chair to see if there had been a discernable improvement. While 100 pages remained beyond reach, everyone had used the template which improved the structure of the pack and made it much clearer for the reader to discern its purpose.

The Actuarial function had split their report so that the key messages and areas of interest were in a summary and the detail (much reduced) was in an Appendix, Finance had re-structured their reporting so that much of the duplication was removed and the sequence made sense.

If you think we can help you with your Board reporting please email or call +44 (0) 20 7764 0721

BP&E Global – Board Performance and Effectiveness

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