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People-related risks top the list for risk managers in Europe


People-related risks are the top priority for risk managers across Europe, according to a new study, which also found that 74% of risk managers say there is a growing focus on managing risks rather than pure insurance buying.

For U.K. risk managers, regulation and legislation were the top priorities, the survey found.

"Managing Risk in Europe 2007" found the top six risks affecting European companies are: people-related risks, competition, business interruption, environmental considerations, financial risks and damage to physical assets.

The European operations of Marsh Inc. studied 738 companies from 10 countries in Europe in fourth-quarter 2006. People-related risks are almost always a fixture in companies' risk-registers, according to Eddie McLaughlin, managing director of the risk consulting practice at Marsh Ltd. in London.

Many respondents said they were noticing a trend towards greater spending on risk management as opposed to insurance buying.

This, Marsh said, reflects the fact that, among other things, "companies are becoming more savvy in risk management and acknowledging that value can be created from more effectively managing risk."

For the 100 respondents from the United Kingdom, the top risk was regulation and legislation, followed by competition and employers liability. Regulation did not feature as a top priority risk in any other territory, said Mr. McLaughlin.

The high priority given to these risks may be due in part to the U.K. regulator, the Financial Services Authority, which is a "leading light," as well as the fact that risk management is well-advanced in the United Kingdom, he noted.

Of all the countries surveyed, companies in the United Kingdom have the highest confidence in their ability to manage risks.

Respondents were asked to rate their confidence in managing risks out of a possible 5. The aggregate confidence level of U.K. companies was 3.88, according to the study. The second and third most confident countries were Spain and Belgium.

More than three quarters, or 77%, of U.K. respondents said the trend is to focus on managing risk rather than buying insurance.

And risk management budgets are increasing, according to 55% of respondents. Only 7% of respondents said their risk management budgets were decreasing, while 38% of risk managers said that their budgets were static.