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Financial Director – March 2015

HSBC might have assumed that the moment had passed – the moment that was the furore regarding the stolen Swiss bank accounts data. HSBC would, however, have been wrong. While the bank has denied any allegations that it helped clients to evade tax, the mud that’s been dredged up from the 2007 data is certainly sticking.

What does this have to do with the cover story? Well, not a huge amount, admittedly. But it does show that mistakes or problems from the past, outside the comfort of the head office, can come back to haunt you. And, whether you like it or not, we are in a world where supply chains must be scrupulously monitored, and audit trails will exist that can make life very uncomfortable – whether it’s due to boardroom decisions or a salesman smoothing a deal in a distant, foreign, clime.

Despite the risks of doing business in a world where everything seems to change at an increasing rate, there are great opportunities. And those opportunities are, oh, so tempting, particularly when so many traditional markets are stagnant or have been superseded. But would you dive into Greece, or Russia, at the moment? As Charles Hecker points out in our article, you’ve just got to do your homework.

He makes it sound easy – though you may need cartographer’s tools to sit alongside your forecasting algorithms – but anything is possible. As I said in last month’s editorial column about the FD’s integral role in analysing data, you are viewed as the cryptologist of information. Making judgement calls on launching into new territories is tough going at the moment, but if you go into it with eyes open, and consider a wider range of issues beyond those of basic customer demographics and competitor analysis, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t succeed.

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