Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2020

Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2020
Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2020

Key Issues Being Discussed in the Boardroom and C-Suite

Leaders of organizations in virtually every industry, size of organization, and geographic location are reminded all too frequently that they operate in what appears to many to be an increasingly risky global landscape. Boards of directors and executive management teams cannot afford to manage risks casually on a reactive basis, especially considering the rapid pace of disruptive innovation and technological developments in an ever-advancing digital world.

Protiviti and NC State University’s ERM Initiative are pleased to provide this report focusing on the top risks currently on the minds of global boards of directors and executives. This report contains results from our eighth annual risk survey of directors and executives worldwide to obtain their views on the extent to which a broad collection of risks is likely to affect their organizations over the next year.

Executive Summary

The executive summary provides a brief description of our methodology and an overview of the overall risk concerns for 2020, followed by a review of the results by type of executive position. It concludes with a call to action offering a discussion of questions executives may want to consider as they look to strengthen their overall risk assessment and management processes.

Executive Summary


Full Report

Our full report (also available at erm.ncsu.edu) contains extensive analysis of key insights about top risk concerns across a number of different dimensions, including a breakdown by industry, size of company, type of ownership structure, and geographic locations of company headquarters.


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Industry-wise Top Risks for 2020



Executive Perspective

The need for greater transparency about the nature and magnitude of risks undertaken in executing an organization’s corporate strategy continues to be high as expectations of key stakeholders regarding risk management and risk oversight remain strong. Pressures from boards, volatile markets, intensifying competition, demanding and potentially disruptive regulatory requirements, changing workplace dynamics, shifting customer preferences, uncertainty regarding catastrophic events, and other dynamic forces are leading to increasing calls for management to design and implement effective risk management capabilities and response mechanisms to identify, assess and manage the organization’s key risk exposures, with the intent of reducing them to an acceptable level.

Key Findings

  • Global business environment slightly less risky in 2020.
  • Interesting shifts in the 2020 top 10 risks.
  • Talent and culture risks and technology and innovation risks dominate the top 10.
  • Most executives concerned about economic conditions.
  • Concerns over operational capabilities have strategic underpinnings.



Top Risks for 2020

  1. Impact of regulatory change and scrutiny on operational resilience, products and services
  2. Economic conditions impacting growth
  3. Succession challenges; ability to attract and retain top talent
  4. Ability to compete with “born digital” and other competitors
  5. Resistance to change operations
  6. Cyber threats
  7. Privacy/identity management and information security
  8. Organization’s culture may not sufficiently encourage timely identification and escalation of risk issues
  9. Sustaining customer loyalty and retention
  10. Adoption of digital technologies may require new skills or significant efforts to upskill/reskill existing employees (new in 2020)


2020 Top Risks Survey Infographic Image

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Previous Surveys: