Global Risk and Disruption

As January has come and gone, many of us find ourselves reflecting on those often elusive new year’s resolutions. But it seems like an opportune time to also reflect on the annual forecasts and predictions for 2017. How are we doing so far? Do those forecasts still make sense?

I recently contributed a piece to Reactions magazine for their special report on 2017 Risks. My forecast for the biggest risk companies would face in 2017 was disruption. That one word seems to sum up so much for companies. It was a word that we heard quite a bit in 2016, and I predict it will be used even more in the coming year—especially if January was any indication.

I see disruption of work and changes in the global economy as two of the biggest factors going forward.

As a forensic accounting firm to the insurance, legal and corporate markets, we see thousands of claims each year, giving us a unique perspective of the cost of global risks and disruption factors. For each of our markets, we are continuing to see issues arise from the interruption of normal work cycles. This disruption is not just from your standard loss and business interruption issues (like delays, defects, or disasters), but from larger scale issues in the global supply chain, product recall events or emerging issues resulting from cyber events. These are instances that may change, slow, impede or completely halt business for some period of time. And follow on issues of remediation, repair and the potential of reputational harm can significantly change the way a company does business.

The increase in disruption due to cyber events and the resulting damages are self-evident. It seems not a week goes by where you don’t see an email come through (or hopefully get blocked by a spam filter) with some sort of scam or spear phishing attempt or hear about a cyber breach at another company. I fear the attempted attacks we are seeing now will only continue to increase as we rely more heavily on technology to do business, necessitating a continual investment in cyber prevention and additional training for employees.

The second aspect of disruption risk in 2017 comes in the form of global economic changes. With Brexit in the UK and a new administration in the US, we have already begun to experience significant impacts in the first month of 2017. These changes have created a general uneasiness for citizens and corporations alike, and have left us questioning what will happen next in cross-border commerce and regulation.

As CEO for a company with offices on five continents and clients literally around the world, I watch these changes in the global economy closely. We strengthened our platform in 2016 with new offices in Europe and the US and have expanded our service offering in the Latin American market. But as a global company, each aspect of our business is impacted by fluctuations in the global markets.

The changing picture of global risk is sure to make 2017 an interesting year.

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Last week, I reflected on the novelty of the concept of marketing and business development for a new accountant fresh out of school. Here, I want to address how I approach these topics in the business world and make them work for me as a forensic accountant.

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