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Economic risks still top risk manager concerns: Survey

Economic risks still top risk manager concerns: Survey

Economic risks continue to dominate the concerns of risk mangers, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The emerging risk categories eliciting the most concern among risk managers are economic, 56%; geopolitical, 22%; technological, 8%; societal, 5% and environmental, 4%, according to the fifth annual “Emerging Risks Survey” by the Society of Actuaries, Casualty Actuarial Society and Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

As for specific risks, financial volatility topped the list and was chosen by 68% of survey respondents. Failed and failing states ranked second at 42%, followed by cyber security/interconnectedness of infrastructure at 38%. A Chinese economic “hard landing,” oil price shock and regional instability each were cited by 32% of respondents.

The report, conducted by Omaha, Neb.-based Rudolph Financial Consulting L.L.C., also notes that the profile of risk managers and enterprise risk management initiatives has risen since the financial crisis.

“The financial crisis pointed out both the shortcomings of implementation at many firms as well as the potential for the risk management process when backed by a strong risk culture,” according to the report. “Most risk managers are providing input and having a say when new opportunities are considered, and ERM activity is expanding.”

However, the report notes that risk managers may have trouble communicating appropriate timelines for certain emerging risks and how they interact with other risks.

While risk managers have tended to discount potential environmental risk in the most recent surveys, the report cites the potential loss of fresh water services as a prime example of a risk about which companies and organizations need to hear.

“While feature films will run in 2012 discussing ancient Mayan calendars, seeking to convince senior management that fresh water shortages might lead to regional conflicts in Asia is hard,” according to the report that was based on responses of 172 risk managers.

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