Asian firms entering into new and challenging markets benefit from having risk professionals who appreciate the global risk environment

Many Asia-based organisations are entering into new markets that have “under-developed insurance environments”, according to Aon Global Client Network managing director of Asia, Benjamin Chang (pictured).

Such expansion means that a firm can benefit from having a seasoned risk manager who understands the dynamic nature of global risk.

“One who can bring in a consultative approach to these risks along with cutting edge, innovative tools and risk programmes that support the company’s international business objectives,” he says.

Hong Kong-based Chang adds that organisations across Asia are facing increasingly diverse and sophisticated threats.

“From Aon’s recent research for the Underrated Threats Report, we found two types of risk to be particularly poignant across Asia – cyber and terrorism risks,” he says.

Hostile environments

Chief risk officer of global logistics company Katoen Natie, Carl Leeman, observes that many corporates are expanding into environments that are more hostile from a political and environmental point of view.

“You go into regions where the same information is not available as in the West,” he says. “In some parts of the world, there are no statistics on flooding, earthquake or wind velocity.”

Neither are the consequences of globalisation a one-way street. Many multinationals are discovering that the incoming global business community brings with it closer scrutiny of local business practices.

Media-related crises

Hong Kong-based risk and business continuity manager at Veolia Water Lenny-Baptiste Conil says: “In Asia, I see a development of media-related crises. If you look at China, the press is – and it’s a good thing – more and more free to criticise, to challenge, to investigate… although it’s not yet like in the West.

“However, we were not used to that before, so a lot of attention needs to be given now to external communication and public relations, even in more remote areas, and even in more niche markets.”

 Global corporate trades in global macroeconomic, environmental and socio-political environments, and need to understand how such global risks interact with each other and change over time. This introduces a level of complexity into running a business that did not exist a generation ago and that cries out for an enterprise-wide approach to risk.

“Risk management is getting more and more complex,” says Leeman. “In the past, many risk managers came out of insurance, which can be useful, but risk management is now much more than this.”

New generation

The next significant waypoint for the profession, most senior risk managers agree, is to attract the next generation, young people from a diverse range of backgrounds, with the talent and skills to develop a robust, technologically savvy and business-relevant risk culture for the future.

Mohamad Bin Mohd Zain, vice-president of group business assurance at Telekom Malaysia, and chair of Marim, the Malaysian risk managers’ association says there is a shortage of people in Asia who have the appropriate skill set to be truly effective risk managers. “There are still big gaps in risk-management education, hence a great opportunity for trainers in this area, he says.

Indeed, risk management faces a serious challenge: talent. Do we have enough and where will the next generation come from? We can all debate standards and training, but if we can’t attract young people, that will be a sterile debate.