Global commercial environment ‘riskier’ in 2017: Aon study

Trends in economics, demographics and geopolitics, and rapid technology advances, are transforming risks for global businesses, adding new urgency and complexity to old challenges, according to the '2017 Global Risk Management Survey'.

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Global risk management and HR solutions provider Aon's 2017 Global Risk Management Survey finds companies around the world are facing a new reality that they are largely unprepared for.Based on a survey of 1,843 respondents at public and private companies from around the world, as well as insight and analysis from report partners Risk Advisory and Roubini Global Economics, Aon reports the top ten risks worldwide reported by businesses are:
  1. Damage to reputation/brand
  2. Economic slowdown/slow recovery
  3. Increasing competition
  4. Regulatory/legislative changes
  5. Cyber crime/hacking/viruses/malicious codes
  6. Failure to innovate/meet customer needs
  7. Failure to attract or retain top talent
  8. Business interruption
  9. Political risk/uncertainties
  10. Third-party liability

Top ten risks to businesses

Damage to reputation/brand remained the top ranked risk by businesses. Defective products, fraudulent business practices and corruption continue to be key threats to reputation. Social media greatly amplifies their impact, making companies more vulnerable, says Aon. Additionally, traditional uninsurable risks are becoming more volatile, difficult to prepare for and therefore mitigate.Rising sharply in the ranking from nine to five this year, cyber crime is now the top concern among businesses in North America. The frequency of software security breaches are increasing and incident response plans are more complex due to regulation and mandatory disclosure obligations.Political risk and uncertainty has risen from 15 to nine, reflected in the first-round outcome of France’s presidential election campaign and political newcomer President Trump’s route to the White House.

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Businesses underprepared for new risk profiles

Despite the volatility, risk preparedness is at its lowest level since the survey's inception in 2007. Risk-readiness declined from 39 per cent in 2015 to the 27 per cent in 2017’s index. This is perhaps accounted for by developed nations traditionally associated with political stability are becoming new sources of volatility and uncertainty, meaning businesses here are underprepared, Aon suggests."We are living in a challenging new reality for companies of all sizes around the world,” commented Rory Moloney, chief executive officer for Aon Global Risk Consulting. “There are many emerging influences that are creating opportunity, but at the same time, creating risks that need to be managed."As the risk landscape for commerce evolves, businesses can no longer rely solely on traditional risk mitigation or risk transfer tactics. They must take a cross-functional approach to risk management and explore different ways to cope with these new complexities."As well as top-line global risks, the 2017 Global Risk Management Survey offers insight by sector and country. Key themes here are the impact on risk profiles of increasingly populist trade policies and protectionism.

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