We are subject to a variety of possible risks that could adversely impact our revenues, results of operations or financial condition. Some of these risks relate to general economic and financial conditions, while others are more specific to us and the industry in which we operate. The following factors set out potential risks we have identified that could adversely affect us. The risks described below may not be the only risks we face. Additional risks that we do not yet know of, or that we currently think are immaterial, could also have a negative impact on our business operations or financial condition. See also Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Disclosure.
We operate in a highly competitive industry.
The advertising and marketing communications business is highly competitive. Our agencies and media services compete with other agencies and other providers of creative, marketing or media services, to maintain existing client relationships and to win new business. Our competitors include not only other large multinational advertising and marketing communications companies, but also smaller entities that operate in local or regional markets as well as new forms of market participants.
The client’s perception of the quality of our agencies’ creative work and its relationships with key personnel at the Company or our agencies are important factors that affect our competitive position. An agency’s ability to serve clients, particularly large international clients, on a broad geographic basis and across a range of services may also be an important competitive consideration. On the other hand, because an agency’s principal asset is its people, freedom of entry into the industry is almost unlimited, and a small agency is, on occasion, able to take all or some portion of a client’s account from a much larger competitor.
Clients may terminate or reduce their relationships with us on short notice.
Many companies put their advertising and marketing communications business up for competitive review from time to time, and we have won and lost client accounts in the past as a result of such periodic competitions. Our clients may choose to terminate their contracts, or reduce their relationships with us, on a relatively short time frame and for any reason. A relatively small number of clients contribute a significant portion of our revenue. In the aggregate, our top ten clients based on revenue accounted for approximately 20% of revenue in 2016. A substantial decline in a large client’s advertising and marketing spending, or the loss of a significant part of its business, could have a material adverse effect upon our business and results of operations.
Our ability to attract new clients and to retain existing clients may also, in some cases, be limited by clients’ policies or perceptions about conflicts of interest, or our own exclusivity arrangements with certain clients. These policies can, in some cases, prevent one agency, or even different agencies under our ownership, from performing similar services for competing products or companies.
Our results of operations are highly susceptible to unfavorable economic conditions.
We are exposed to risks associated with weak regional or global economic conditions and increased disruption in the financial markets. The global economy continues to be volatile. Uncertainty about the strength of the global economy generally, or economic conditions in certain regions, and a degree of caution on the part of some marketers, continue to have an effect on the demand for advertising and marketing communication services. Our industry can be affected more severely than other sectors by an economic downturn and can recover more slowly than the economy in general. In the past, some clients have responded to weak economic and financial conditions by reducing their marketing budgets, which include discretionary components that are easier to reduce in the short term than other operating expenses. This pattern may recur in the future. Furthermore, unexpected revenue shortfalls can result in misalignments of costs and revenues, resulting in a negative impact to our operating margins. If our business is significantly adversely affected by unfavorable economic conditions, the negative impact on our revenue could pose a challenge to our operating income and cash generation from operations.
We may lose or fail to attract and retain key employees and management personnel.
Our employees, including creative, digital, research, media and account specialists, and their skills and relationships with clients, are among our most valuable assets. An important aspect of our competitiveness is our ability to identify and develop the appropriate talent and to attract and retain key employees and management personnel. Our ability to do so is influenced by a variety of factors, including the compensation we award and other factors which may be beyond our control. Changes to U.S. or other immigration policies that restrain the flow of professional talent may inhibit our ability to staff our offices or projects. In addition, the advertising and marketing services industry is characterized by a high degree of employee mobility. If we were to fail to attract key personnel or lose them to competitors or clients, our business and results of operations could be adversely affected.