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A “perfect storm” of risk is suppressing business confidence, according to a study released Thursday by specialist commercial insurer CNA Hardy, as cyber and regulatory risk concerns have surpassed political and economic risk over the last six months.
The Spring ’18 Risk and Confidence report also found than only 42% of business leaders surveyed are currently confident in the ability of their business to grow and prosper, and almost one-third are actively cautious as they look ahead to autumn, the London-based unit of CNA Financial Corp. said in a statement.
“As the frequency and severity of cyber risk increases and oversight, via the new General Data Protection Regulation steps up,” the report said, “so the threat of substantial fines is commanding C-suite attention.”
However, the report said, corporate and supply chain risk are still failing to register with executives.
“Despite all the high-profile failures … these are two risks that still languish on the periphery of boardroom vision,” the report said.
The report, based on research with over 500 business leaders of United Kingdom and European multinational firms in nine business sectors, said confidence is staging a weak recovery following a stark dip in fall 2017, “but is yet to regain the heady levels we saw in Spring ‘17.”
“Underneath the confidence,” the report said, “which is particularly prevalent among larger businesses, caution prevails. Almost one-third of UK business leaders are worried about the operating environment – three times more than at any point in the past year, with 80% characterizing it as ‘moderate to high’ risk.”
European business leaders, while more confident than their UK counterparts, share the sentiment that the risk environment is extremely challenging, the report said.
In addition, the report said there is a major shift of attitude toward Europe as a market, with over 57% of UK business leaders turning their backs on expansion in Europe since fall 2017, in favor of UK domestic growth.
“Brexit was mentioned time and again by respondents in our survey,” the report said. “They know that Brexit is likely bringing new tariff and regulatory requirements; as well as challenges with recruiting and deploying staff across countries. As this combination of cyber, regulatory and Brexit stress reshapes the risk agenda, our data suggests business leaders are recognizing the new world order and adjusting their risk perceptions accordingly.”
CNA Hardy said its research is conducted biannually.
Specialty insurer CNA Hardy, a unit of CNA Financial Corp., said Tuesday that it will set up a new European subsidiary in Luxembourg, the latest insurer to set up offices on the Continent in response to Brexit.