The black swans now appear in flocks, COVID, Wirecard and other rare animals

Dear Sir or Madam,

Years ago a speaker could entertain his audience with the story of the “Black Swan”. This is the story of extremely rare events that have dramatic effects on the further course of history. Already during the financial market crisis around ten years ago, publications warned against underestimating risks with “high severity – low propability”. The classic entrepreneur counters this with the argument, “when does that happen?”. At this point, I would like to dispense with statements about the Wirecard case, which is widely discussed, or the role of auditors, and refer to the pointed statements (German only) in the Handelsblatt of August 9, 2020 “The control failure in the Wirecard case is inherent in the system”.

We have been offering the seminar “Audit of the Risk Management System” through a well-known provider of training in internal auditing for years. After years with a very good number of participants, the interest has unfortunately decreased considerably in recent times. Also the new audit standard of the RMA is still little used. It is to be hoped that this will change. It is not enough for the auditor to say something about Risk Management in his audit certificate. The internal audit department should not be blinded by this. With a risk-oriented audit approach, the audit of the Risk Management System must also be included in the annual planning.

The Corona Pandemic and its consequences continue to require our full attention. The prospects for an early improvement of the situation are not positive. The number of newly infected persons is currently (mid August 2020) increasing again. The hope that there will be an improvement after the summer vacations has proven to be premature. Government measures to support the economy will initially expire in the coming months. Many observers expect a sharp increase in the number of bankruptcies in numerous sectors in the autumn. The government measures against COVID-19 and their effectiveness are controversially discussed in society and in some families.

At this point we do not want to go into this sometimes very unobjective and emotional debate. Rather, we would like to draw attention to the work of the World Economic Forum (WEF) especially on the topic COVID-19. This influential but private organization provides a comprehensive view of the effects of COVID-19 for public discussion on the Internet. In addition to the annual Global Risks Report, the WEF has focused specifically on COVID-19.

COVID Dashboard

A wide variety of topics can be accessed via the dashboard. The topics are dealt with under the scientific supervision of a recognized institution and in particular the existing interactions are shown. The respective sources and articles are updated and completed in a timely manner. From our point of view, we can recommend to include the WEF’s representations in the management reports of the companies and institutions. A reading is expressly recommended. The high quality of the scientific representations does not exclude – we have often had to recognize this during the epidemic – that such information is misused by individuals and misused for so-called “fake news”.

We have pointed out the effects of COVID-19 on you, our customers and interested parties and ourselves in previous issues of the INFOletter. Currently, routine and fatigue has occurred in the work in crisis teams or “task forces”. The length of time the current “crisis” has lasted confronts many of those affected with new, previously unknown challenges. However, the crisis does not take a vacation. It is precisely the crisis teams here in Switzerland that have to deal with this discussion.

In our opinion, what tasks will you, the responsible persons in the companies, be facing in the coming weeks?

The first challenge is to learn the right lessons from the work of the Crisis Task Force so far. In the previous INFO letter, we asked the first key questions for the process “Reviewing and improving the work of the crisis unit”. Under the title “Validating and Optimizing Crisis Management”, we will be taking this topic further in a two-day face-to-face seminar in the fall. In our own seminar center “Obermühle” we have the facilities to conduct such events in compliance with all necessary rules. At this seminar we will also be able to draw on the wide range of experience we have gained from the webinars and events held in the past weeks.

These remote events have given us the opportunity to exchange experiences and learn together in an open atmosphere. In addition to the face-to-face seminars, which we will offer again in the near future, we will offer webinars on various topics at regular intervals. We are pleased that so many of you have accepted our announcements at LinkedIn and Xing. If you are not yet connected with us on one of the two social media platforms, please send us an invitation. We look forward to every contact and keep you informed.

Updating the plans

Another challenge is to improve pandemic planning. Many of those responsible have had to recognize that the plans, some of which are eight to ten years old, are in need of overhaul. We will deal with this topic in more detail in a separate essay.

On the topic of “digitizing the work of the Crisis Management Team”, we referred to our Crisis Management Tool DEMiOS 3.0. Here we identified the integration of Office 365 and other Microsoft products as a particularly important point. Here we can positively merge our consulting expertise from the classic security area and IT consulting. Driven by Corona, many customers are currently introducing Office 365. In the companies this results in considerable changes and adjustments of the processes. From numerous conversations with you, our customers, we have realized that despite the digitalization of Security and Crisis Management, you do not want to be confronted with different processes. That is why we are working on connecting our products to the new environment in such a way that you do not have to work in different worlds, whether in normal or crisis situations.

Do you need concrete support on how to quickly develop and effectively implement emergency plans in this situation? Get in touch with us! We help. And we would be happy to welcome you to one of our seminars in our own training center. The updated seminar brochure will be published shortly. Our new website will give you an overview of what we offer.

We look forward to talking to you

Klaus Bockslaff and Mathias Götsch