2023 Advisory Board Centre – A Year in Review

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Published 18 December 2023


In this video review of 2023 our Founder, Louise Broekman, and Advisory Board Centre’s Director, Udo Doring, discuss key trends and impactful moments that helped shape the advisory board landscape this year.

Louise discusses the publication of the third edition of the State of the Market Report, the annual Mega-Trends Summit, the refreshed Certified Chair™ Executive Program, and other significant milestones, that helped make 2023 a year of ‘knowledge and transformation’.

Advisory Boards: A Global Trend

Underscoring the universal nature of advisory boards, Louise emphasises that it’s not just a fad but a widespread global trend. The adoption of advisory boards is on an upward trajectory across various sectors, with a noteworthy 29% concentration on start-ups and scale-ups.

The mid-market continues to show robust resilience globally, and the growing presence of advisory boards in the family office space is a trend to monitor closely in the coming year. Significantly, 2023 revealed that project advisory boards are increasingly making their mark in the corporatised space, broadening their reach across diverse markets.

Sustainability and Specialisation in Focus

A major paradigm shift has been witnessed this year in the realms of sustainability and specialisation, such as cybersecurity. The integration of advisory boards in customer and thought leadership spheres is being heralded as an intelligent model, normalising advisory board roles.

Legislative Changes In Aged Care

We witnessed legislative changes in Australia’s aged care sector this year, with the Government introducing new provider governance responsibilities for aged care providers that include mandatory membership of governing bodies, the establishment of new consumer and quality care advisory bodies, and measures to improve leadership and culture. These legislative changes potentially pave the way for mandatory advisory boards in other sectors in 2024 – this is certainly one to watch!

Ethics and Independence Take Centre Stage

The spotlight also shone on ethics in 2023, with a pronounced focus on demonstrated independence. Organisations are increasingly placing ethical, independent advice above purely commercial considerations. Louise stresses the importance of exploring the boundaries of independence, foreseeing a shift in the discourse around advisory boards.

For a deeper dive into these trends and other 2023 highlights, watch the full video interview below.

Read the transcript

UDO: Ok, Well, thanks Louise. Thanks for taking the time. We thought about writing an overview for the end of the year and the year that was 2023, And as we were writing, we thought there was probably a little bit too much to cover, so we thought we might have a bit of a chat and maybe go to a more consumable for anyone who is interested in the advisory board space and best practice. So let’s dive in. Let’s not make this video too long, but 2023. Highlights. It’s been a big year. Can you refine or distil the year down to a couple of key points or key trends that you’re seeing? 

LOUISE: I think, Udo, it’s been a big year for everybody. If we look at just the simple things around real key activities, all roads lead to the State of the Market Report. It was third edition of the State of the Market report, and there were significant changes in the market and it really informed our other activities, which was the mega-trend summit that we had in Australia and in and then our whole refreshed Certified Chair™ Executive Program that was being delivered all around the world. So yes, it’s been a busy year, but it’s been an informed year.

UDO: And so when you look at the delivery in different parts of the world, you’ve had the great fortune of spending time in essentially every region globally. Are there any differences or trends that you’re seeing that are worth noting? Or is that are there similarities that you think are worth noting?

LOUISE: I think the escalation in the use of advisory boards, it’s a it’s a global trend. It’s not a fad. And it’s happening in every part of the market. We know that 29% of advisory boards are in the start-up and scale-up market, and that’s continuing to be strong. And the investor community really investing in quality advisor panels we’re seeing happening all around the world. The mid-market continues to be strong worldwide and then we have the emergence of, you know, the the use of advisory boards in the family office space. And I think that’s going to be a very interesting trend to watch for the year ahead.

And then finally, I think the most one of the most important areas that we’re seeing in change is that growth of project advisory boards really now moving into this corporatised space. Advisory boards have always been in large organisations and we’re just seeing the utilisation of them in every part of the market. And there are many features around that corporatised Advisory Board that are worth talking about.

UDO: And you think that you’re seeing that you think has changed over the last couple of years.

LOUISE: There’s been significant changes, I think, in the areas that it’s happening in the world anyway around sustainability. So the use of advisory boards in these areas of specialisation like Southern cyber sustainability that are that are absolute trends where the commercial and normalisation of advisory boards is happening is around the customer, customer and thought leadership advisory boards. It’s just such a smart model and it’s easily applied and it just integrates well between the governance board and the executive team. So it’s really quite a what I would say is now normalizing the advisory board function and it leads interesting that when you talk about that normalizing of trends, we’ve seen obviously legislation in Australia come into effect with the aged care sector Is that something to watch into 2024, you think, where we might see mandated advisory boards in different sectors. I think that’s going to be an interesting area to watch.

And I think the first six months it was the 1st of December that the aged care advisory boards came into came into play. he first six months will be really watching and seeing what everybody does, mapping this with the certified chair benchmarking community to really evaluate what’s working and what’s not working, what’s being adopted in the market, and then the shift of those advisory boards into other parts of that market. And so it’s fair to say that the disability services part of the market will also take up the advisory board model very quickly.

UDO: Okay. And I guess it’s a nice segway into ethics and the role that ethics has played in the provision of advice,

LOUISE: Certainly, in the Australian experience that has been all-pervasive this year.

UDO: And when we think about consulting and advice provision, how is that affecting the advisory board space and what are organisations looking for or what are the pressure points for organisations when they’re talking around advice now?

LOUISE: Well, that’s a really big topic and we can break it down. It’s a demonstrated independence is really where it’s at. So trust needs to be really urgent, and every part of the advisory market needs to step up.

So Advisory Boards has a very important role to play, I think, in the demonstrated independence, independence of the organisation, the independence of each other. And it’s a really difficult thing to do because everyone has a vested interest in something in some way. So the actual exploring what independence in what independence actually means is a really important thing for 2024 around the mindset of independence.

And I think this is a real shift in the narrative around advisory boards and what this practice actually means. We’ve got a lot of work to do in that space. It’s interesting, just anecdotally, hearing organisations asking or placing more of a priority on that ethical independent advice piece rather than the really focused on perhaps the commercial cost of advice. I think there’s there’s been a bit of a shift.

UDO: Is that something that you think is a global phenomenon? And I’m conscious that, you know, we’re speaking to an international audience and I think it’s global, but it’s also it means different things in different parts of the market. What does independence mean when there’s advice and investment? What does independence mean when it’s in government or at university levels or in ethics advisory boards?

Louise: So the careful mapping and the establishment face of advisory boards is absolutely really critical. And I think because there are so many existing advisory boards that have been ineffective in 2024, reviewing existing advisory boards, I think will be an important function or advisory board professionals to play.

UDO: So you mentioned 2024. Are there key areas or key milestones that you’re looking forward to in 2024? What have you got planned?

LOUISE: Well, state of the market’s every two years, the state of the market report. So we don’t have that next year. But what we do have being released next year is the re-release of the ABS 1 to 1 advisory board best practice framework and the Code of Ethics.

There’s a whole series of guidelines that sit underneath that. So we’re in the middle of a consultation process which we’re taking in we think, around a six-month period to finalise and then re release states because there have been some it’s not only changes in the market, but our understanding of the advisory board sector is just deepening. And I think the more that we know, the more we realise that we don’t know, we still need to really explore the boundaries of. And so the release of the next version of the best practice framework and the code of ethics is important for us as a profession, but it’s also important for the market around these ethical issues, around independence.”

UDO: And when you talk about the code of ethics and the guidelines, just for those that perhaps don’t live and breathe this every day, what are we talking? Is this prescriptive documentation about exactly what happens in these rooms? And how would you unpick that  in a sentence or two?

LOUISE: Right. So these are not these are not rules. Once we start writing rules, we can never have enough rules. And so every advisory board is different. And the flexibility and the agility of an advisory board is at strength. So if we start putting really tight frameworks around it, it’ll break, you know, the effectiveness of advisory board.”

So the best practice is all around principles. And so how those principles are applied in different parts of the market and by professionals navigating what’s the right thing to do in this situation. These principles need to be very simple but strong.

UDO: So when we when we go through this review process, it’s not to make it more complex because it will then undermine the value and the flexibility of an advisory board structure and making it fit for purpose in different parts of the world as well. So what works in North America It might work in Asia, may work in the UK, and being able to apply different guidelines in different situations.

 LOUISE: Absolutely. And you know that the research that we do is so important to not only to you know, educate the market, but to listen to the market as advisory board professionals are applying these best practice principles,we have this incredible opportunity to learn from our the members of our advisory board community. It’s a really important part of our living research mandate is to never take the market for grantedand to as a community to learn from each other.

And that’s what I’m most excited about in fall 2024 is the opportunity to learn and collaborate with the advisory board community worldwide.

UDO: Okay, fantastic. So in 2024, any other major milestones or events that you’re looking forward to?

LOUISE: Well, the summit is always a highlight. And this year the  Mega-Trend Summit was an absolute delight bringing members from around the world to here in Brisbane. So we’ll do it again in May next year. But we’ve got another summit in Singapore which will be showcase in Singapore. It’s such a major hub of globally and so to have a advisory board summit there in market will help us to really learn the and learn about the market, but also shape showcase it,but also in a increasingly geopolitical environment where it’s really complex. Singapore has a really important role to play in know in the global context. So that’s that’s what I’m looking for. What about, Udo, what are you looking forward to?”

UDO: “Those summits will be terrific. I think the other thing that we certainly do nave on the cards in 2024 is a schedule of international delivery in terms of programs and really looking forward to being in-market and in person” with members and stakeholders in different parts of the world as well.

LOUISE: Exciting times ahead.

UDO: Yeah, absolutely. Now please, looking into 2024, we’ve got people that are advisory board professionals that are watching this. What’s one thing that is important for the year ahead, a focus point.

LOUISE: There are so many priorities in the market right now and so many competing priorities. I think advisory board professionals have the opportunity to really maximise their impact by having absolute crystal-clear agendas with a sharp focus on this is what we’re going to talk about this what we’re not going to talk about, what gets on that agenda becomes an ethics issue in the corporate environment, in the business sector. It becomes an absolute game changer with what you decide to absolutely focus on in their strategy. So I think shaping the agenda, being really clear around that and really maximise the areas where advisory boards can really add impact.

UDO: Fantastic. Well, thank you very much for taking the time, Louise. We’re looking forward to a big 2024 ahead.

LOUISE: Thanks you to.

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