Economic, geopolitical risks most worry global business leaders: World Economic Forum survey

By Erin Ayers on September 21, 2017

A recent World Economic Forum (WEF) survey revealed that while unemployment/underemployment represented the top global risk concerning business leaders, North American businesses cited terrorist attacks, large cyberattacks, climate change, and technology risks as their main worries.

“While the threat of a large cyberattack remains a chief business concern among North American executives, 2017 saw an increase in concern for terrorist attacks and climate risks, most likely due to recent high profile events,” said Martin South, president, Marsh US and Canada. “Businesses should work with their risk advisers to thoroughly examine how these threats could impact their operations and determine appropriate risk management and business continuity measures. The good news, particularly for technology risks, is the insurance market is flush with capacity and now routinely provides protection for business interruption exposure in addition to more traditional cyber liability.”

The survey, produced by WEF, Marsh & McLennan Companies, and Zurich Insurance Group, asked 12,411 executives in 136 countries about the risks most likely to threaten their organizations over the next decade. In the US, business leaders ranked terrorist attacks, cyberattacks (data fraud/theft was #5), and misuse of technology as their top three. Canadian respondents named cyberattacks, the asset bubble, and climate change adaptation as their most concerning risks – and only Canada demonstrated any significant concern about climate risks.

John Scott, chief risk officer for commercial insurance at Zurich, commented, “Whilst economic growth and technological developments create new opportunities for business and countries, geopolitical risks and events have led to uncertainties which raise questions about how to manage resilience in uncertain times. It is essential for businesses to have clear risk management strategies in place, developing options for legal structures and operational choices which take account of uncertain policy outcomes.”

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eayers@advisen.com'

Erin is an editor at Advisen. She has 15 years of journalism experience. Prior to Advisen, Erin covered property-casualty insurance for 13 years as editor-in-chief of The Standard, New England’s Insurance Weekly. Erin is based in Boston, Mass. Contact Erin at eayers@advisen.com.