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The continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or a new public health crisis, emerged as the top risk concerns for Indian companies, according to a joint study conducted by Marsh and RIMS. Results from the Excellence in Risk Management India 2020, Spotlight on Resilience: Risk Management During COVID-19survey also show that large scale cyber attacks and data frauds remain one of the top-three risk concerns for the Indian corporate sector. While there is great optimism about the ability of organizations to rebound and address future pandemic-related challenges, cyber attacks and data fraud continue to be paramount concerns for risk professionals in India.

According to the report, around 63 percent of the 231 survey respondents – which included c-suite executives and senior risk professionals – identified a new pandemic or continued fallout of COVID-19 among the top three risks facing their organization. Cyber attacks (56 percent), data fraud or theft (36 percent), failure of critical infrastructure (33 percent, fiscal crises (31 percent), and extreme weather events (25 percent), were highlighted among the other top risks for Indian businesses. The majority of survey respondents (85 percent) said the pandemic necessitated a shift to remote work, a move that has increased their organizations’ exposure to a potential cyber attack.

In the light of the ongoing pandemic and shutdowns imposed by national and local governments, failure of critical infrastructure climbed the ranks in the 2020 survey, as many organizations re-evaluated their risk management priorities. Despite various extreme weather events, such as cyclones and forest fires, extreme weather dropped from third in 2019 to sixth in 2020.

“Organizations need to balance their focus between longstanding and emerging risks. While there has long been an awareness of weather-related risks, low-frequency risks generally receive less attention. The pandemic has underlined the need for risk managers to keep all perils on their radar,” said Sanjay Kedia, Country Head and CEO, Marsh India.

This year’s report examined the need for building organizational resilience to a variety of low-frequency but high severity risks. However, while many senior business leaders are shifting attention to questions of resilience, more than one-fifth of respondents said that they do not assess or model emerging risks.

“Organizations need to focus on building resiliency to future Black Swan events. The lessons learned in 2020 should be leveraged to revise business continuity plans so that companies are able to withstand the impact of the next big challenge,” Mr. Kedia added.

“Cyber attacks, fraud, weather-related risks and, even, pandemics, have long been identified and prioritized by risk professionals,” said RIMS 2020 President, Laura Langone. “However, risk professionals’ work must go beyond identifying the impacts of these uncertainties. It is incumbent upon us to highlight opportunities and solutions that support shifts in strategy, strengthen organizational resilience and empower business leaders to make strategic-decisions with confidence. We are proud to present these findings with Marsh and provide the global risk management community with the insight to help elevate their programs.”

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