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21 May 2015

Reputational damage "the top risk facing businesses"

Content team

Brand and reputational damage is the top risk facing businesses at present.

This is according to new research from Aon, which has released its 2015 Global Risk Management Survey. Not since 2007 has damage to a businesses' reputation or brand been ranked as such a serious threat.

An economic slowdown and lagging recovery was rated as the second greatest risk, followed by regulatory and legislative changes. Increasing competition and failure to attract or retain top talent completed the top five.

Also highlighted as among the top ten risks facing companies was failure to innovate or meet customer needs, business interruption, third-party liability, cyber risk and property damage.

This is the first year that cyber risk has been included in the top ten and Aon said this is linked to brand and reputational damage's position at number, as the two threats are directly linked.

Alicia Goosen, business unit head of the financial services group at Aon South Africa, stated: "It's little surprise to see cyber risk enter the top ten at the same time we are seeing increasing concern about corporate reputation, as the two issues are a great example of the interconnectivity of risk."

The organisation's survey was based on the responses of 1,400 individuals, including chief executives, chief financial officers and risk managers.

Those respondents at c-suite level were found to be predominantly concerned with threats such as commodity price risk, economic slowdown and technology failure. Meanwhile, risk managers are more focused on liability-related risks such as cyber attacks, property damage and third-party liability.

Ms Goosen said she is surprised by this lack of alignment between the boardroom and risk management professionals.

She added that the interconnected nature of all of the threats highlighted in the top ten demonstrates the need for strategic risk management at all organisations.

Content team, Bureau van Dijk

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