Last economic crisis of the years 2008-09 caused the decline and low spirits in Europe. Companies got used to the new order and even named it the new normal. Against the background of the rest of the continent, Poland looks like an investment paradise, while Russia and Ukraine are considered markets for those who are not afraid of risk – these are the conclusions drawn from this year's, the seventh edition of the CFO European Summit, a leading conference prepared by ACCA and hosting over 150 representatives of financial management professionals of the biggest Polish and European enterprises.
The first part of the conference was devoted to the expansion of companies in the Central and Eastern Europe. Our lecturers and guests of panels came to the following conclusions:
– Europe is still sinking into recession whose costs have already exceeded the costs of the WWII five times;
– compared to other EU member states Poland copes with the crisis surprisingly well and thus it is very attractive for foreign investors;
– despite the today's situation in the East of Europem, most Western investors have not considered withdrawing from the difficult Russian market.
EUROPE WITHOUT PERSPECTIVES
Europe is still handling the results of the crisis. – This recession is long-term and harsh. We have already paid for it about five times more than the WWII – said Dr. Daniel Thorniley, President, DT-Global Business Consulting GmbH and a world recognised expert for developing markets. – The crisis made Europe lose confidence. In China over 87 per cent of people believe that the next generation will be living on a higher level and in better conditions. In Europe this belief is shared by 7 per cent of people only – this is how Thorniley summed up his presentation.
POLAND AS A LEADER
Against the background of the collapsed Europe, the Polish economy looks very attractive. – Within the period of 2008-2013 we had the fastest growing GDP in Europe. We left Slovakia, the second European economy by GDP, far behind us. The problem of the government debt worsened in many states but only three of them felt it to a lesser extent than Poland – Minister Jacek Rostowski said during the conference. John Rendall, CEO, HSBC Bank Poland, agreed with him. – Our calculations say that by the year 2050 the Polish economy might outrun the Belgian, Swedish and Swiss economies – he revealed during one of the panels.
RUSSIA BROUGHT INTO QUESTION
The risk accompanying investments in Russia is big but the situation is not that serious as it looks like in the mass media. The biggest problem at this moment is low exchange rate of the Russian rouble and economic sanctions imposed by both parties to the conflict. – Developing business in Russia is very hard but my customers cope with it and some of them have even enjoyed growth. To the question if they would suspend investment plans in Russia 66% of them answered "No." They prefer to wait out until the end of the conflict – said Daniel Thorniley.
The leading theme of the second part of the conference was corporate culture and its impact on business results. The audience was presented the latest ACCA report based on the surveys sent globally to 120 thousand members of the organisation. Results of this survey were discussed during the second panel discussion. The following conclusions were drawn:
– companies have adapted to post-crisis order and run their businesses in an environment called the new normal;
– the fundamental problem of many organisations is their autocratic style of management;
– adjusting corporate and private values of the workforce has got a positive impact on efficiency of enterprises.
"THE NEW NORMAL"
Entrepreneurs have already adopted and even got used to different conditions. They call them the new normal. The economic outlook has changed as well as expectations. – Managers and persons in charge should act reasonably – said Ramin Khabirpour, Board Member, Agros-Nova. – Of course, the economic results are important but we live in a time when we should ask ourselves: Do I really have to earn more each year? Maybe stable profit at a low level would be sufficient? If the economic growth remains at the rate of 1% per year, the European economy will be three times bigger within the next 100 years. It's worth considering what consequences to the environment it will have – noticed Khabirpour. Izabela Jagosz-Kuchta from IBM Poland disagreed with him. – We must remember that profit is the essence of commercial entities - she argued during one of the panels.
The fundamental problem of many organisations is their autocratic style of management. - This style of management can be observed in many Polish companies and it does not allow the employees to develop their full potential. Superiors themselves don't follow the rules imposed on their subordinates, which supports conformist attitudes and restricts the space for discussion – argued Zofia Dzik, CEO, Humanities Foundation, Supervisory Board Member, PKO BP. Another difficult issue is the pressure to deliver results. - Research that was conducted in the Gallup Institute among others, has shown that long-term growth is linked with the management culture and values supported by the company, not with results or aggressive incentive system –added Zofia Dzik.
Values should be visible on each field of company's business activities. The best situation is when the example comes from the top, i.e. from the CEO's office. But sometimes it's not enough. - In each organisation values define employees'' actions on two levels: private and corporate – Bolesław Rok from Leon Koźmiński Academy observed. In the event when private and corporate values do not overlap, his productivity and results will be far from perfect. – When corporate and private values are alike, it is more likely that the results will be better too. I know this is the case from personal experience – added Ramin Khabirpour.