Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2016

Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2016

2016 Top Risks Survey Hero

Protiviti partnered with North Carolina’s State University’s ERM Initiative to conduct our fourth-annual Executive Perspectives on Top Risks Survey and obtained the views of more than 500 board members and C-suite executives about risks that are likely to affect their organization in 2016. Overall, survey responses suggest a global business environment in 2016 that is slightly more risky for organizations in 2015, but not as risky as 2014.


Because of the rapid pace of change in the global business environment, executives and boards of directors can benefit from a periodic assessment of risks on the horizon to best position their organizations for a proactive versus reactive response to risks that may emerge and potentially impact their ability to execute their strategies to achieve profitability and funding objectives. We therefore conclude our report with suggested questions that executives and boards should consider as they evaluate their risk assessment process.


We hope this report provides important insights about perceived risks on the horizon for 2016 and beyond, and serves as a catalyst for an updated assessment of risks and risk management capabilities within organizations.



Key Findings

  • ​Regulatory change and heightened regulatory scrutiny continues to represent the top overall risk for the fourth consecutive year for most organizations. 
  • ​Economic conditions in domestic and international markets slightly elevated when compared to the two prior years. In particular Board of Directors and CEOs appear to have uncertainty regarding the global economic climate. 
  • Concerns about cyber threats disrupting core operations is again ranked in the top five for 2016, and as the top operational risk overall and for the largest organizations. 
  • Succession challenges and the ability to attract and retain talent made the top five risk list again – a risk especially prevalent for smaller organizations. 
  • ​Privacy and identity protection ranked as a top five concern for the first time in 2016, which is consistent with the increasing number of reports of hacking scandals and growing concern over protecting personally identifiable information. 
  • ​There are growing concerns about the speed of disruptive innovations and new technologies.
  • ​Boards of directors, CEOs and other members of the executive team report differing views of the top risk exposures facing their organizations. 
  • ​CFOs and CAEs perceive a riskier environment. 




Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2016 Infographic


Top 10 Risks:

  1. Regulatory changes and scrutiny may heighten, noticeably affecting the manner in which products or services will be produced or delivered 
  2. Economic conditions may significantly restrict growth opportunities for our organization
  3. Cyber threats have the potential to significantly disrupt core operations and/or damage brand
  4. Succession challenges and the ability to attract and retain top talent may limit the ability to achieve operational targets
  5. Privacy/identity management and information security/system protection may require significant resources
  6. Rapid speed of disruptive innovations and/or new technologies within the industry may outpace ability to compete and/or manage risk appropriately, without making significant changes to business model
  7. Resistance to change may restrict necessary adjustments to the business model and core operations
  8. Anticipated volatility in global financial markets and currencies may create significantly challenging issues
  9. Organization culture may not sufficiently encourage timely identification and escalation of risk issues that have the potential to significantly affect core operations and achievement of strategic goals
  10. Sustaining customer loyalty and retention may be increasingly difficult due to evolving customer preferences and/or demographic shifts in existing customer base




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Gordon Tucker
Jim DeLoach