by Michael J. Shapiro | June 24, 2015
Life sciences companies are increasingly implementing formal meetings policies, according to American Express, but still lag in crisis preparedness. These findings are part of a white paper released this week by American Express Meetings & Events, entitled, "Protect Your Profits: Mitigating Meetings Risk in Life Science Companies." The research, which surveyed 156 administrative assistants who plan meetings and 118 managers and leaders who oversee the meetings at life sciences firms, revealed that 70 percent of respondents had a formal meeting policy in place. That's 26 percent higher than what Amex found in a multi-industry study in 2013, suggesting that the life-sciences sector places more comprehensive controls in place than the industry at large. An overwhelming majority of the administrative assistants polled (92 percent) said they follow the policy that is in place.

But crisis preparedness and management continue to present challenges. Crisis preparation guidelines exist only 60 percent of the time; one-quarter of the respondents did not know whether such guidelines exist at all. Such findings lead American Express to question whether companies are too confident in their risk levels. While 60 percent of respondents said meetings risk is properly mitigated in their organizations, more than a third (36 percent) did not know if any type of legal, financial or procurement team had reviewed the processes within the past year. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) were certain they had not had any such process reviews.

"Companies should not be comfortable with even 90 percent of respondents agreeing that risk is being mitigated properly," asserted Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president and general manager of American Express Meetings & Events. "The stakes and penalties around noncompliance to industry regulations are very high."

The study found that administrative assistants play a crucial role in the process, with 54 percent of the leaders reporting that more than half of their event planning is handled by administrative assistants as opposed to professional meeting planners.

American Express advises companies to continue to focus on generating savings and mitigating risk, even without economic pressures to do so. "Companies should take action now to ensure they have the right parameters in place to prepare for a time of expected business growth," advises the white paper, "to ensure their meetings and events are a direct and compliant extension of their brand and corporate values."

You can download the white paper from American Express here.