Executive Opinion Survey View of Top Risks in Asia-Pacific sub-regions (2015-2017) - Marsh & McLennan Companies

Singapore executives name terrorist and cyber attacks as biggest global risks for local companies

Business leaders in Singapore have ranked terrorist and cyber-attacks, followed by asset bubbles and data theft, as the most concerning global risks in a new global survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in collaboration with Marsh & McLennan Companies and Zurich Insurance Group.

Prior to publication of the full Global Risks Report 2018, the Forum has published data drawn from its Executive Opinion Survey (EOS), which provides a unique window into what businesses worry about. The survey asked 12,411 executives in 136 countries to identify the five biggest risks to doing business in their countries out of a total of 29 risks. The top five risks identified globally were unemployment, fiscal crises, failure of national governance, energy price shock and social instability – showing greater concern for social, economic and geopolitical risks, than environmental and technological risks.

However, Singapore executives are joined by US executives in ranking terrorist attacks and cyber-attacks as their top two concerns, with data fraud or theft in the top five for both countries.  Singaporeans are also concerned about the spread of infectious diseases – possibly due to experience with the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic of 2003 to 2004 and more recently, occasional reports of Avian Influenza and Zika virus outbreaks in Asia.

Regionally, executives across East Asia and the Pacific rank cyber-attacks and asset bubbles as the top risks, while South Asia executives are most concerned with unemployment and failure of national governance.

Commenting on the Singapore results, Reg Peacock, CEO of Zurich Insurance Singapore, said, “The findings suggest local executives are more concerned about external events which might impact Singapore, than home grown trouble.”

“As a technological hub with many large regional or global corporate headquarters here, Singapore is a potential target and it is good to see executives are aware of these risks.  All companies should ensure they have clear risk mitigation and management strategies in place to manage these issues,” he added.

David Jacob, CEO of Marsh Asia, said, “This survey reveals fresh insights into the concerns of senior business executives around the world, which helps frame our thinking about products and consulting. Concerns about energy price shocks and asset bubbles appear high on lists for many countries, suggesting there is uncertainty about the state of the global economy.”

“Companies should start building resilience to these risks,” he noted.

RankTop global risks of highest concern in 2017 to executives in Singapore
1Terrorist Attacks
2Cyber Attacks
3Asset Bubble
4Data Fraud or Theft
5Infectious Disease

Global risks of highest concern

Executives’ responses identified economic, geopolitical, social and technological risks as likely to carry the greatest dangers for their businesses over the next 10 years.

RankTop global risks of highest concern in 2017 to executives globally
1Unemployment or underemployment
2Fiscal crises
3Failure of national governance
4Energy price shock
5Profound social instability
6Failure of financial mechanism or institution
7Failure of critical infrastructure
8Cyber attacks
9Inter-state conflict
10Terrorist attacks


John Scott, Chief Risk Officer, Commercial Insurance, Zurich said, “While economic growth and technological development create new opportunities for governments and businesses, augmented geopolitical turbulence has created uncertainty about how to manage resilience in tempestuous times.”

He added, “Today it is a must for businesses to have clear risk management strategies in place, while building resilience to emerging risks. Looking at the findings, we can see that while businesses are clearly aware of social and economic risks, they are underestimating the potential impact of environmental and technological ones in many markets.”

In conjunction with the release of the EOS data, Marsh & McLennan Companies’ Asia Pacific Risk Center has launched its second annual report looking at the key risks and trends in the Asia-Pacific region in light of the relevant regional EOS results. The report “Evolving Risk Concerns in Asia Pacific” examines the key disruptive risk trends that formed the backdrop of executives’ top concerns, and outlines the implications and opportunities for businesses operating in the region.