President’s Report – April 2024

Our ESOMAR Council meeting for April was an online meeting, held on 17 April. As a quick reminder, we have four face-to-face 1.5-day meetings a year, and on the other months we have a two-hour virtual meeting.
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Date 23 April
Author Ray Poynter

Governance Review

Vice-President Tom De Ruyck reported on the progress of the Governance Review Group. At the previous Council meeting the Group presented a range of topics for discussion. The Group is now considering the Council’s comments and will produce a set of proposed changes. These changes will, following approval by the Council, be put to the General Meeting scheduled for June 27.

One of the proposed changes is that the term of office for Council and President should be extended from two-years to three years. In 2016 this change was suggested by an earlier Council, and I was one of the voices opposing the idea. Therefore, it might be helpful if I highlight why I have changed my mind. My opposition to the move to three years was outlined in a blog post. The short version was that I wanted the members to keep the ability to remove a poorly performing Council in less than three years.

The three things that have contributed most to changing my mind are:

  • The independent forensic review we commissioned which said that one of the reasons for inadequate supervision of ESOMAR was the two-year term of office which meant that the members of Council did not have the continuity to exercise sufficient oversight – particularly in technically sophisticate areas such as IT and finance.

  • Discussions with staff who pointed out the difficult of doing long-term projects if the Council changes direction every two years.

  • Discussion with some of ESOMAR’s partners who talked about the challenges of creating long term partnerships when ESOMAR potentially changes direction every two years.

    Consequently, I am now fully supportive of three-year terms of office for future Presidents and Council members. Indeed, at the recent discussion the Council was unanimous in its support for a change to three years.

    Feedback on the ESOMAR Latam Conference

    Director General Joaquim Bretcha gave a report on the recent ESOMAR LatAm Conference in Bogota, Colombia. The conference was by general consent a great success. With almost 200 attendees, there were attendees from over 30 countries, and 30% were from client organizations.

    As well as the main Conference sessions, there were a number of associated events, including:

  • A meeting of the ESOMAR Reps (12 countries)

  • A meeting of National Associations from around Latin America (9 countries)

  • A CLICK meeting where client-side insight professionals were able to meet and discuss areas of common interest.

  • A CEO lunch

  • An Adjacent Associations meeting, including people such as the Bogota Chamber of Commerce.

    As President, I also attended the event I can agree with everything Joaquim has said. This Conference highlighted the depth and breadth of insight talent in the Latin American region.

    Finance and Membership on Track

    Marcel Dekker (Chief Operations Officer) and Rhiannon Bryant (Chief Services Officer) reported on key metrics such as revenue, spending, and membership changes. The good news is that we are a quarter of the way through 2024 and things are broadly on track, indeed in many cases doing slightly better than the budget.

    One specific action which came out of the financial report was a discussion about ESOMAR’s financial assets. ESOMAR maintains an investment portfolio of about four million Euros. The main reason for these investments is to protect ESOMAR against unforeseen problems (such as the pandemic), a second benefit is that in most years the investments generate a positive return, reducing the amount ESOMAR needs to raise via membership fees. The Council does not do the investing, that is handled by professionals, ABN-AMRO. However, the Council does pick the strategy that ABN- AMRO use. The current strategy could be considered ‘slightly green’. Consequently, the Councill have asked Marcel to present a report outlining the options ESOMAR has to be greener and the associated risks and benefits.

    New Appointments

    The Council confirmed two new appointments.

  • Jennifer Picard from Pernod Ricard as a Rep for France. France now has three

    Reps, one from the agency side and two from the clients.

  • Jennifer Hubber from the Campari Group as a member of the Professional

    Standards Committee.

Ray Poynter
President at ESOMAR