Log in Join now News & media

Businesses are neglecting emerging risks and must seek a new approach, new report warns

Airmic 3rd June 2019

The world is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, the report notes. This context has triggered the need to recalibrate risk management and rebalance efforts between managing traditional risks and emerging risks.

However, organisations tend to focus on material threats where they have useful data sets and control over their choice of direction. “There is a danger that boards are spending too much of their limited time on more traditional risks, at the expense of emerging risks, which may be filed in the ‘too hard’ or ‘less important’ folder,” it warns.

The UK Corporate Governance Code, which was introduced by the Financial Reporting Council last year, means boards are now required to specifically address emerging risks alongside principal risks in their annual reports, and to explain what procedures are in place to identify, manage and mitigate them.

Emerging risks are far harder to define, quantify and map and require a different, more imaginative approach, the Airmic report stresses. Formal assessments and heat maps should be exchanged for structured, creative discussions across business units. Boards and risk professionals need to “create space to think the unthinkable and speak the unspeakable.”

The guide, Emerging Risks, New World, New Solutions, is designed to support risk professionals and provides practical advice, including a 12-point check list.

“Consideration of emerging risks is often relegated to the backseat, even though they can result in the biggest shock waves,” explains John Ludlow, Airmic’s CEO.

“Three years ago, Brexit was an emerging risk that many ignored. Today we have the international rise in protectionism, trade tensions between China and the US, the impact of climate change, plus many more. There is no excuse for boards to say they did not see these coming but it will require a change in mind set – emerging risks are more art than science.”

Richard Smith-Bingham, director, Marsh & McLennan Insights, added: “Boards must be satisfied in knowing their firms possess the hunger to anticipate a multitude of surprises that could potentially erode long-term value, as well as the operational and strategic agility to enable them to move decisively in emerging crises and position their assets well for the future.”


Airmic is the UK association for risk managers and insurance buyers. Its annual conference, New World, New Solutions, takes place in Harrogate, June 3-5.

About Marsh

Marsh is the world’s leading insurance broker and risk adviser. With over 35,000 colleagues operating in more than 130 countries, Marsh serves commercial and individual clients with data driven risk solutions and advisory services. Marsh is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With annual revenue over US$15 billion and 75,000 colleagues worldwide, MMC helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment through four market-leading firms: Marsh, Guy Carpenter, Mercer, and Oliver Wyman. Follow Marsh on Twitter @MarshGlobal; LinkedIn; Facebook; and YouTube, or subscribe to BRINK.


Please contact Jessica Titherington, +44(0)7733 261445,