Execs Say Intangible Asset Mgt. Important

January 29, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Managing tangible assets is one thing, but half of senior executives responding to a new poll say corporate officers shouldn't forget the importance of managing intangibles and intellectual capital.

In fact, according to the global survey sponsored by Accenture, 50% of the executives say managing intangible assets is one of the top three management issues currently facing their companies. Ninety-four percent of the 120 respondents said that managing intangible assets and/or intellectual capital is an important management issue; with 37% of respondents saying it was one of the top three issues and 13% saying it is the highest priority.

In fact, more than nine out of 10 (96%) of the executives said that managing intangible assets and/or intellectual capital is important to the success of high-performing companies. More than one-third (36%) said that doing a good job of keeping an eye on intangible assets is “synonymous” with outstanding corporate performance.

Not only that, but almost half (49%) of the respondents said they consider intangibles to be the primary source of long-term shareholder wealth creation for their companies. In addition, nearly half (48%) said that the stock market rewards companies that invest in intangible assets.

Despite the importance they place on dealing with the issue, 95% of executives surveyed said they do not have a system in place to measure the performance of intangible assets and 33% said they have no such system at all.

“While businesses used to generate future growth through tangible assets like buildings and equipment, in today’s services-based economy more businesses generate future value based on intangible assets such as intellectual property, corporate and brand integrity, customer loyalty, skilled workforce and leadership capabilities,” said John Ballow, a partner in Accenture’s Strategy & Business Architecture practice, in a statement. “Yet our survey results show that while there’s been a big shift toward intangible assets, most companies primarily measure only tangible assets. By implementing systems to measure intangibles, there’s a great opportunity for leading companies to enhance their business performance and create additional value.”   

Half the survey respondents were from the United States and United Kingdom, with the remainder from 25 other countries in North and South America, continental Europe and Asia Pacific. Together the respondents represented more than 50 industries, including financial services, professional services, telecommunications, software, computer services, consumer goods, retail, electronics, electrical equipment, health care, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.