President’s Report March 2024

We have just had the first face-to-face Council meeting of 2024, in Amsterdam. This month marks one year since the current Council was elected, which is also the halfway mark in our term office.
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Council meeting
Date 26 March
Author Ray Poynter

Finances
ESOMAR’s auditors, BDO, attended the Council meeting to present information relating to the Financial Year 2023 and to answer questions from the Council. Having the auditors attend a meeting with the Council is one of the steps we have taken to tighten up our Governance processes. The accounts for 2023 will be presented at the General Meeting in June and we expect ESOMAR to have made a positive return in 2023.

The US fraud that we reported at the AGM last year continues to work its way through the US legal and financial systems. We do not have closure yet on the final costs of dealing with this issue or whether our ‘partner’ will be charged by the police.

Structure and Culture
Our Director General (Joaquim Bretcha), Chief Operations Officer (Marcel Dekker) and Chief Services Officer (Rhiannon Bryant) updated the Council on the progress that has been made since the restructuring of ESOMAR. The teams are working well in terms of functionality and culture. There is a more integrated approach to things and the essence of member-centricity is being adopted throughout the organization. To remind you of the changes, ESOMAR now comprises two large divisions (Operations headed by Marcel Dekker) and Membership (headed by Rhiannon Bryant). The Director General looking after all the external affairs, the newly formed Government and Professional Services / ESOMAR Information Unit Department, and guiding the Chief Services Officer and the Chief Operations Officer.

Partnerships with Associations
Dominique Servant, the Chair of the Associations Executive Committee (AEC), presented an update on the work being done by the AEC. One of the key developments is that a new Partnership Agreement has been drafted and will be used as the template for the over 60 partnerships between ESOMAR and other Associations.

Davos
Liubov Ruchinskaya reported on the initiative she had organized as part to of the World Economic Forum at Davos. Accompanied by Joaquim Bretcha, Liubov was able to bring the world of insights to one of the highest tables in the world. Following the success of this initiative Liubov and Joaquim are looking at future Cannes Lions and Davos sessions – ideally in conjunction with leading research companies and client-side insighters

Professional Standards Committee (PSC)
Judith Passingham, the Chair of the PSC, presented an update of the work of the PSC. The most recent big news was the AI 20 questions which have recently been launched to help buyers of AI systems. The biggest upcoming project is updating the ICC/ESOMAR Code. The report covered a wide range of topics, including the Global Data Quality initiative, best practice guides, and disciplinary cases.

Governance and Constitutional Review
Tom De Ruyck reported on the work being undertaken by the Review Group. Several changes are going to be presented to an ESOMAR General Meeting in June to improve functioning and robustness of ESOMAR.

The recent Forensic Report highlighted that one weakness of ESOMAR is that the Council’s two-year term of office made it harder for the Council to exercise proper oversight. Suggestions for dealing with this include moving to a three-year term of office, of having more guidance for who can stand for election (for example, must have been a member of ESOMAR for X years and must have worked in research and insights for at least Y years), and to set out the election rules in the Statutes.

Another proposal from the recent review related to recruiting experts to provide advice and oversight. We are in the process of creating an Advisory Board to help with major projects, advising both the Management Team and the Council.

National Representatives – Update
Alina Serbanica presented an update from the National Representatives working group. The update included revisions for the resources provided for the Reps, clearer expectations of what is needed, and the rules for allocating the National Reps budget.

Ray Poynter
President at ESOMAR