Aon’s 2019 Global Risk Management survey identified economic slowdown as the number one risk facing organisations today – it’s also an entirely uninsurable risk. Economic slowdown was first ranked as number one at the height of the financial crisis ten years ago and has once again grabbed the top spot.
The bleak economic outlook for South Africa is mirrored by the World Bank which revised down South Africa’s growth prospects for this year and the next two years, citing continued policy uncertainty and the financial burden presented by Eskom to the fiscus. According to a report released In October, the economy is expected to grow by 0.8% in 2019, the same rate as in 2018. The rate is 0.5 percentage points lower than the April forecast while growth is expected to rise to 1.0 % in 2020, which is 0.7 percentage point lower than in April.
The average reported loss of income as a result of the top 10 risks faced by businesses according to Aon is pegged at a staggering 30% for the Middle East & Africa. Respondents in the construction, rubber, plastics, stone and cement, machinery and equipment manufacturing, and printing and publishing sectors are normally most affected by businesses reducing or holding back on capital spending during an economic slowdown.
Formulating an evolving risk management solution
The frequency and level of risks associated with economic slowdown are evolving and escalating so fast that risk management solutions have not yet responded fast enough to prevent or mitigate losses. A concerning trend identified in Aon’s 2019 survey is the lack of risk identification and an overall drop in reported readiness for this risk from 30% to 26%.
“About 10% of surveyed organisations declared they have no formalised process in place to identify and or quantify risks to their business,” says Tony Webster from Aon’s Commercial Risk Solutions Division. “Considering that more of the top risks in this year’s survey are ‘technically’ uninsurable than ever before, companies without a formal risk management process set a dangerous precedent.”
While we are beginning to see the start of a much more significant slowdown in 2020, it would be prudent for companies to start preparing now. “Completing rigorous stress testing and coming up with adverse hypothetical scenarios forms the basis to gauge an organisation’s preparedness for an economic downturn. Ways to improve efficiencies and productivity forms the basis of a well-prepared plan to put in motion to help mitigate the risks. Agility to respond is the key to the mitigation of exposures,” says Tony.
Methods of identifying risks such as economic slowdown and its impact on business
Aon takes a closer look at common tools and sources of information employed by organisations to gain a better understanding of their risks:
The value of dealing with an expert broker with global capacity and expertise has never been more important. “A brokerage that understands the industry and business landscape both globally and locally, as well as the trends and emerging technologies that might disrupt your business going forward is paramount to compiling a well-rounded risk management strategy and insurance solution. Solid risk mitigation strategies and preparedness now, for an economic slowdown in the coming months are crucial attributes for businesses that will allow them to emerge from an economic downturn,” concludes Tony.