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Economic slowdown still No. 1 risk: Aon survey


Global risk managers and chief financial officers say the No. 1 risk facing their organizations remains economic slowdown, according to Aon Corp.’s biennial "Global Risk Management Survey."

While new risks joined the list and others shifted in rank in this year’s survey of organizations in 58 nations, economic slowdown also topped the list in Aon’s previous survey in 2009.

“That actually was a little surprising when you think about the fact that it’s been three years since the credit crisis and this is still topping the list of risk managers and CFOs and treasurers who responded,” said Theresa Bourdon, group managing director of Aon Global Risk Consulting, a Columbia, Md., unit of Aon.

Regulatory/legislative changes also remained at No. 2 like the previous survey, while increasing competition and damage to reputation/brand moved up the risk ranking to Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.

The risk of business interruption dropped from third in the 2009 survey to No. 5 in this year’s.

The survey collected 960 responses from private and publicly traded companies in various industries, up from 551 respondents in 2009, Aon said.


Ways in which companies reacted to the weak economy may have pushed risks into the top 10 concerns, Ms. Bourdon said.

“There was a lot of retrenchment from organizations as a result of the economy,” Ms. Bourdon said. “The kind of things companies had to do to survive during the recession, that’s now having an impact on other areas of risk within their organization.”

For example, companies facing tight budgets may have held back spending on research and development and information technology, causing innovation and technology to join the top exposures, Ms. Bourdon said.

Another issue that has come out of this year’s survey that was not evident previously is the how the speed and breadth of technology change affects organizations.

Several risks—such as hacking and network viruses, lack of technological infrastructure, and loss of intellectual property or data—that did not make the top 10 risks still rose in priority among respondents.

“The ability to embrace and leverage technology is emerging as a dominant factor underlying many of the risks facing these organizations,” Ms. Bourdon said.

To view the survey, go to

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