World Economic Forum report: From unemployment to growing cyber-risk - business executives in different regions have different worries


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Geneva, Switzerland, 12 November 2018 – There are significant differences in risk perceptions across the eight regions covered in the World Economic Forum’s Regional Risks for Doing Business report. Over 12,000 executives highlighted concerns ranging from economic to political, societal and technological. Unemployment, failure of national governance and energy price shocks were among the top worries of executives across various regions.

Cyber-attacks are the number one risk in Europe, East Asia and the Pacific and North America. This points to growing concerns about technological risks – cyber-attacks were the top risk in two regions, according to the 2017 survey (East Asia and the Pacific and North America), and only one region in 2016 (North America).

Failure of national governance ranked number one in Latin America and South Asia, highlighting the costs of political strains that have been evident in much of the world in recent years. In the energy-rich regions of Eurasia and Middle East and North Africa, energy price shocks were ranked as the top risk to doing business.

Unemployment was perceived as the top risk for doing business in sub-Saharan Africa, representing mostly the absence of demand in the region.

In the UK, cyber-attacks were identified as the number one risk.

Chris Lay, CEO, UK & Ireland, Marsh, said: “While Brexit and political uncertainty continue to dominate UK news agendas, it’s cyber risk that’s keeping UK business leaders awake at night, topping the UK rankings for the second time in three years. Geopolitical risks are also a cause of major concern. Continuing uncertainty about the economic impact of Brexit – and the prospect of Britain leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ – mean that UK boards are increasingly preoccupied with heightened financial and political threats to their businesses.

“A number of measures, such as a clear risk management strategy, can build greater operational resilience and help firms ensure that their people, assets and reputations are well-protected to withstand the consequences of the major risks they face.”