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August 2013 Talking Points Newsletter

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As the U.S. economy continues to improve, companies are turning to high-growth and emerging global markets to drive long term revenue.

According to the recently published KPMG 2013 High Growth Markets Outlook Survey, 69% of U.S. executives involved with business development and corporate strategy identified geographic expansion as the top area for increased spending over the next year. This should come as no surprise. In 2010, Latin America, Asia, and the EMEA regions accounted for 45% of world gross domestic product. With respect to specifically non-BRIC countries, Mark Barnes, national leader of KPMG's U.S. High Growth Markets practice explains,

“We see investment moving into markets such as the Philippines, Turkey, South Africa, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Colombia, which possess natural resources, a hunger for goods and services such as healthcare and financial services, and a need for vital infrastructure...companies that establish an early presence can gain a competitive advantage.”

View an interactive chart on the GDP growth for global markets

Risky Business

Establishing that early presence can be tricky business. Impediments to success abound, including political instability, the escalating war for talent, and the ability to forge trusted relationships that are key to doing business in high-growth and emerging markets. Herman Uscategui, Director of Global Strategic Initiatives and International Business Development at Starbucks, describes the relationship between language proficiency, trusted relationships, and business outcomes: “Advanced language skills provide the foundation for trusted relationships with customers, communities, and partners. With those skills we are able to enhance and maintain our connection with current markets and develop new ones fully aware of local customer needs and requirements.” There's also an operational side of the communication equation. Jeff Standridge, VP of Global Workforce Management at Acxiom Corporation explains,

“We have to be able to work seamlessly across the enterprise, regardless of location. That requires us to overcome any language barriers that exist between workers in different geographies. Without the ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively in both directions, significant risks begin to enter the equation, including lower quality, lost productivity, and increased training costs. By addressing these needs early on, companies...see a significant financial impact with global initiatives.”

What are companies doing to break down language and culture barriers?

Solutions to a Daunting Task

Foreign language instruction, including English as a Second Language, has been the most well-known means of creating more effective communication across cultural lines. But within the last decade or so, companies are finding a new strategy that quickly enables clear and concise communication for non-native English speakers: pronunciation, aka “accent reduction,” training. Accurate pronunciation is critical for the effective flow of information between the speaker and his/her listeners. This is true for each of the 600+ global languages. In fact, in a global survey of 572 executives where 47% of respondents were C-level or board level executives, 12% said that “different accents of people from different parts of the world were most likely to cause the greatest misunderstanding in cross-border communication” for their respective organizations. This is one reason why the overwhelming majority of Accents International clients are companies seeking to expand their global footprint. Interestingly, the communication challenge is not only between native and non-native English speakers. It also occurs between non-native English speakers of various languages trying to communicate in the lingua franca of business: English. Executives who provide English pronunciation training find an appreciable increase in seamless communication both internally and in client facing situations. The bottom line is that business growth depends on clear communication every step of the way. Mastering English pronunciation is proving to be one successful strategy for reaching global business growth objectives.

To set up a free trial training session for your multinational workforce, contact a program manager at

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