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Health and safety emerges as top risk facing global directors in WTW's and Clyde & Co's latest survey

March 20, 2024

Global Directors’ & Officers’ Survey Report shows health and safety overtaking cyber as the top risk concerning APAC directors and officers.

SINGAPORE, March 20, 2024 — Health & safety emerges as the top risk for directors and officers according to the 2024 Global Directors’ and Officers’ Survey Report from WTW (NASDAQ: WTW), a leading global advisory, broking, and solutions company, and Clyde & Co, a leading global law firm.

The survey report identifies and analyses the key risks for directors and officers worldwide (covering UK, Europe, Asia, Australasia, Latin America, North America, Africa and the Middle East). Overall, health and safety was considered the top risk with 84% of global directors, officers and risk managers ranking it as very or extremely important, closely followed by cyber-attack (including cyber extortion) risks on 79%.

Globally, data loss has dropped in rank at 3rd place, having ranked 2nd in the previous year. In Asia, data loss is still ranked 3rd in top perceived risks while in Australasia, data loss was ranked 4th.  For the first time since 2019, the threat of an organisation being a victim of crime has dropped out of the top seven risks by global directors.

Other key findings include:

  • Emerging risks. New entrants in the top risks include systems and controls and breach of sanctions, reflecting heightened geopolitical tensions and the increasing complexity of corporate governance.
  • Climate change. While not in the top seven risks globally, the importance of climate change remains high in some regions such as Asia, Australasia and the Middle East, where it has been identified as a top seven risk, signalling sentiments in many of the Asia Pacific (APAC) markets, including Singapore and Australia on the proposed mandatory reporting requirements.
  • Alternative risk transfer. A notable portion of respondents are exploring or using captives and other mechanisms, indicating a strategic approach to managing D&O risk despite the softer market conditions.

Commenting on the findings this year, Simon Weaver, Head of Asia Pacific and Head of Corporate Risk & Broking, Asia Pacific, said: “Health and Safety is the new top risk facing directors in APAC, taking the top position from cyber-attacks as last year’s survey leader in the region. The new #1 echoes the results of other regions’ (except Great Britain) similarly noting Health and Safety as the foremost risk facing them in 2024. This reiterates the unique and complex issues facing today’s directors which go beyond simply financial obligations of shareholder return. 

“The responsibilities incumbent upon directors and officers in APAC continue to evolve and become more nuanced, with aspects, such as employee safety, ESG-related obligations and cybersecurity-related pressures to be cognisant of.  All set with a backdrop of ever-increasing competition and pressures to meet financial targets.

We strongly recommend that organisations prioritise evolving their risk management practices, addressing the emerging threats.”

Simon Weaver | Head of Asia Pacific and Head of Corporate Risk & Broking, Asia Pacific, WTW

“It is also not surprising that cyber-attacks (including cyber extortion) came in as the #2 top risk facing directors and officers in APAC. With the rapid developments in AI changing the complexion of security, operation and automation, directors cannot stay passive. We strongly recommend that organisations prioritise evolving their risk management practices, addressing the emerging threats, as well as those around health and safety. WTW remains a close partner for our regional and global clients at the forefront of risk and insurance advisory.”

James Cooper, Partner and Global Chair of the Insurance Practice, Clyde & Co, said: “The report underscores the dynamic and complex nature of the risk landscape currently facing directors. What we have seen is that there is a pressing need for better education on D&O insurance and indemnification practices to ensure directors and officers are comprehensively protected. By leveraging the insights and recommendations from this report, organisations can better navigate these challenges, enhancing their resilience and strategic response to risks.”

The complete survey can be downloaded here: Global Directors’ and Officers’ Survey Report 2024.

About WTW

At WTW (NASDAQ: WTW), we provide data-driven, insight-led solutions in the areas of people, risk and capital. Leveraging the global view and local expertise of our colleagues serving 140 countries and markets, we help organizations sharpen their strategy, enhance organizational resilience, motivate their workforce and maximize performance.

Working shoulder to shoulder with our clients, we uncover opportunities for sustainable success—and provide perspective that moves you.

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