Canadian Underwriter

The top threat facing Canadian businesses

April 29, 2019   by Jason Contant

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Cyber attacks and data breaches are the Number 1 threat to businesses in North America, according to Aon plc’s newly released 2019 Global Risk Management Survey.

Aon surveys thousands of risk managers across 60 countries and 33 industries every two years to identify key risks and challenges their organizations are facing. Cyber attacks/data breach topped the list this year in Canada and the United States (these two countries accounted for 24% of survey respondents). Rounding out the Top 5 were:

  • Damage to reputation/brand
  • Economic slowdown/slow recovery
  • Failure to innovate/meet customer needs
  • Business interruption

“This year’s survey results illustrate the escalating concerns over the rapidly changing business environment and the potential for unwelcome surprises Canadian organizations face that can disrupt their business model over time and damage reputation almost overnight,” said Bill Besse, chief client officer of commercial risk solutions with Aon in Canada.

Although difficult in the current environment, risk preparedness is key for Canadian businesses, according to the survey.

“Those firms that anticipate, plan and prepare will minimize earnings volatility and maximize profitability and will have a competitive advantage in today’s business world,” Besse noted in a press release Monday.

Globally, the top two risks were economic slowdown and damage to reputation/brand. Global risk managers are reporting their lowest level of risk readiness in 12 years; many of the top risks, such as economic slowdown and increasing competition, are uninsurable. As a result, risk managers need to embrace risk management as opposed to risk transfer to mitigate these threats and protect their organizations from potential volatility.

The survey also asked global businesses for their projection on what the top risks would be in three years. In Canada, the Top 5 future risks are:

  • Cyber attacks/data breach
  • Failure to innovate/meet customer needs
  • Failure to attract or retain top talent
  • Economic slowdown/slow recovery
  • Aging workforce & related health issues.

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