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Firms run by ‘demanding from top down’ more likely to fail, says Ex-wirecard CEO

21st Oct, 2020

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James Freis, the former US regulatory official tasked with running e-payments giant Wirecard as it collapsed over the summer, warned an audience of the risks of trying to run their businesses through a command-and-control approach — particularly in today’s rapidly changing economy.

“We’re in a world that is evolving faster than anyone could have anticipated years ago. If a management team is not looking to change, to evolve, to challenge the way that they’re doing things, they are going to fall behind, because the markets and the consumers and the service demanders are evolving,” Mr. Freis told a virtual corporate crime and regulation summit hosted by law firm A&L Goodbody.

During a crisis, Freis added, you need employees and advisers who are able to take responsibility for achieving results and to provide concrete recommendations. “The worst thing is someone coming and saying, ‘Well, that’s not my job’ or ‘We’ve never done that before’,” he said. “Well, frankly the reason you are called into a crisis meeting is because we don’t have a playbook.”

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