When I arrived as Chair in September 2018 it quickly became clear that our financial position was showing a loss. The Board grasped the challenge of this immediately. Putting in place a set of measures to curb further losses, we initiated bi-weekly meetings between board and executives to ensure mission-critical actions were implemented swiftly.
To keep costs down, unfortunately we had to make redundancies. This was done at the end of 2018, alongside looking at longer-term solutions to keep the IoD sustainable. These cost savings won’t flow through to our balance sheet until 2019 and therefore we ended the year with a loss of £4.2m, however our firm objective is to end the current year with a surplus.
The Board is disappointed that we had to sign off on these numbers but we are comforted by the fact that as an organisation the IoD nonetheless delivered value and social impact in many areas throughout the year. We continued to provide many benefits to our members such as event series, our numerous high-quality premises, advisory services, and access to world-class director training. In addition, the IoD remains a leading authority consulted on various issues from diversity to corporate governance.
Looking ahead, we want to align ourselves closer than ever before with the objectives in our Royal Charter. Marrying this with our focus on the 'bottom line' we have set out a number of priorities to achieve this aim. Improving the engagement between our centre and regions and nations will be key for the months ahead. Enhancing this relationship will complement our efforts to better leverage our international footprint, and in particular we want to have a clear international strategy for our governance training. In seeking to increase our capabilities overseas, adept collaboration with other organisations will be crucial.
Professional Development is one of the areas where we have high social impact – developing directors is an essential element of our Royal Charter. In delivering the study and promoting the research of corporate governance, collaboration will also be crucial, where it suits the interest of this Charter goal. At the same time, we can consider how to improve the interface between membership and the Continuous Professional Development we offer.
Meanwhile, we must also seek to enhance our ability to connect across the organisation and share the rich experiences we all have, to strengthen our businesses as much as we can. To do so we will encourage and facilitate more events that truly enable members to learn from each other.
On the political front, we have been busy with Brexit for some years and nobody knows when a solution might be found. But the truth is that for our members, the world does not stop turning because of this impasse. In our policy work, we must ensure there is balance so that we are representing directors across a spectrum of issues, and particularly in the field of corporate governance.
Taken together, this represents a change in focus - though retaining the core things we know our members want and that we have an international reputation for. As we take this action, we will consider a triple bottom line, making sure we are financially, socially and environmentally sound, and our impact in these last two areas will be considered alongside our financial health.
Moving forward, we will continue to communicate as openly as possible with members, sharing our strategic priorities and ambitions for the future.