Business leaders at inflection point on risk

Aon CEO Greg Case has described the world’s business leaders as being at an “inflection point” as they look beyond the global pandemic.

Case (above) made his comments as the broker issued the results of its survey of 800 business leaders to gauge their views 18 months after the pandemic.

The survey “A New Approach to Volatility: The Importance of Making Better Decisions” aimed to reveal how organisations are preparing for and responding to interconnected risks. It followed Aon’s research conducted last year, and revealed that a year later, business leaders have a renewed confidence in the economy and a greater appetite to embrace calculated risks.

“We are at an inflection point where businesses are not only focused on overcoming the current challenges we are facing but shifting to think about other long-tail risks and how to prepare for them,” explained Case. “As leaders look at the future of their businesses in an increasingly volatile world, the pandemic has reshaped their views of risk and sharpened the importance of making better decisions. The past year has given leaders the insight they need to understand the dynamics of long-tail risks and the need to be better prepared, sparking optimism for what lies ahead.”

The survey found most leaders (80 percent) say the pandemic experience has increased their companies’ appetite to take on more risk and make investments in order to build resiliency for the future. Executives are keen to take on new risks relevant to financing and capital investment, with 55 percent of respondents expressing interest in raising new capital, financing or debt and 50 percent of respondents open to investing in new technologies.

Almost four in five leaders (79 percent) predicted growth in the year ahead and 40 percent expected double-digit revenue growth. Among the 38 percent of leaders who indicated they were “very prepared” to deal with the pandemic, 55 percent estimate double-digit revenue growth.

However, companies who were weakened by the pandemic, 32 percent of those surveyed, struggled to integrate risk assessment into decision-making and to focus on the interconnectedness of varying risks. Companies that were unprepared and subsequently weakened by the pandemic fell behind their successful counterparts in two key areas: access to financial protection against losses and the ability to keep employees safe and productive throughout the pandemic. Conversely, strong companies took a holistic, integrated view to pandemic response and reported risk integration as key to their approach to disarming evolving risks.

Senior executives place more value on models, analytics or data science tools to ensure their company makes better decisions. Among stronger companies, 61 percent also stated they are very confident they have the ability to analyse available data and information to make sound decisions going forward.

“Our research shows that executives are confident in the future and have prioritised the need to be better prepared for risk in the wake of the pandemic,” said Lori Goltermann, chief executive officer of enterprise clients at Aon. “When speaking with CEOs and other leaders through our Enterprise Client Group, these findings validate their experience and reinforce our role in delivering solutions that give our clients the clarity and confidence to make better decisions that protect and grow their businesses.”

Almost four in five leaders (79 percent) predicted growth in the year ahead and 40 percent expected double-digit revenue growth. Among the 38 percent of leaders who indicated they were “very prepared” to deal with the pandemic, 55 percent estimate double-digit revenue growth.

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