De-risking in 2023

To prepare you for overseeing, de-risking and managing your organizational risks in 2023, we’ve consolidated results from surveys conducted by two of the world’s top risk management authorities. One survey represents a strategic view from boards and C-Suite, while the second survey reflects more operational risks. The 4,016 respondents from around the globe have provided input on the critical risks which they expect will significantly impact their organizations in 2023. Review this consolidated list to see strategic and operational risks for this year, compare it to your organization’s Risk Register and mitigation plans, then consider this article’s conclusions.

2023 will be Disruptive

Elevated levels of disruption look set to continue in 2023 as dangers from digitalization, talents shortages, the war in Ukraine, high energy prices and inflation, geopolitical and economic uncertainty and other risks strain business models.

The NCU (North Caroline State University ERM Initiative)/Protivity results are based on a survey of 1,304 board members and C-suite executives worldwide. This report represents a strategic vantage on risks for 2023. The respondents represent numerous different industries and geographies, 47% of whom represented companies in North America, 13% in Europe, 11% in Asia, 9% Latin America, 8% Australia New Zealand, with the remaining 12% from India Africa and the Middle East. The survey was conducted in September October 2022.

The Allianz Global report addresses more operational type risks and reflects the views of 2,712 respondents from 94 countries and territories, all collected during October and November 2022. Respondent where customers, risk managers, industry trade associations, insurance brokers, consultants and other risk specialists. The survey focused on large- and small- to mid-size companies (large businesses account for 50% of responses). Respondents were asked to select the industry about which they were particularly knowledgeable and to name up to three risks they believed to be most important.

The Consolidated Strategic and Operational Risks- 2023

2023 Rank

C-Suite and Boardroom Risks

(NCU/Protivity Survey- 2023 & 2032)2


Operational Risks

(Allianz 2023 Risk Barometer)1


Attracting and retaining top talent

Cyber incidents


Economic conditions, growth constraints

Business interruption/ Supply Chain


Anticipated increases in labor costs

Macroeconomic developments


Resistance to change business model

Energy crisis


Supply chain uncertainties

Changes in legislation and regulation


Culture, workplace sustainability

Natural catastrophes


Digital technologies, upskilling, reskilling

Climate change


Untimely risk & opportunity escalation

Shortage of skilled workforce


Hybrid work environment

Fire, explosion


Lack of resiliency,  unexpected crisis

Political risks and violence

The following commentary addresses some of the current top risks. Selected points are extracted and summarized directly from the NCU/Protivity2 and Allianz 2023 Risk Barometer1 reports:

What are the Strategic Risks:   

Selected Key Points (from NCU/Protivity):
  • The risk landscape is changing but resistance to change persists. Leaders cannot afford to ignore the changing risk landscape, given new risks can emerge rapidly. The culture of their organizations should be prepared to adapt to disruptive change and facilitate escalation of market opportunities and risks to decision makers.
  • The economy is top of mind. There are significant concerns globally about the potential or persistent challenges related to inflation and growth.
  • Talent and technology concerns dominate the composition of top risks. The 10-year outlook reflects a mix of opportunities and risks relating to disruptive innovation, advancing technologies and human capital challenges. Executives and boards recognize the need to find the talent to realize fully the value proposition associated with new technologies and digital innovations and are prioritizing strategies around reskilling and upskilling existing employees to get it. They also are concerned about increases in labor costs impacting achievement of profitability goals, as well as evolving approaches to managing hybrid and remote work.

Definitions from NCU/Protivity Survey: Macroeconomic  are likely to affect the organization’s growth opportunities; Strategic risks are those the organization faces that may affect the validity of its strategy for pursuing growth opportunities; Operational risks are those that might affect key operations of the organization in executing its strategy.

What are the Operational Risks:

Selected Key Points (from Allianz 2023 Risk Barometer):

  • Cyber crime– incidents are now estimated to cost the world economy in excess of $1trn a year, around 1% of GDP. The frequency of ransomware attacks remains high, with losses increasing as criminals hone their tactics to extort more money, while the average cost of a data-breach is at an all-time high. All sizes of business are now targeted, coupled with that there is growing shortage of Cyber security professionals. A data breach is the exposure which concerns companies most (53%), given data privacy and protection is one of the key cyber. Such incidents can result in significant Reputational Damage, as well as notification costs, fines and penalties, and also lead to litigation or demands for compensation from affected customers, suppliers and data breach victims. The average cost of a data breach reached an all-time high in 2022 of $4.35mn, according to IBM’s annual cost of a data breach report, and is expected to surpass $5mn in 2023 (not considering a ‘mega breach’ event). An increase in data breaches is expected this year, as criminals are finding ways to breach standard multi-factor authentication technologies. An increase in ransomware attacks ranks as the second most important concern (50%). Around the world, the frequency of attacks remains high, as do related claims costs. The cost of ransomware attacks has increased as criminals have targeted larger companies, supply chains and critical infrastructure – in April 2022 an attack impacted around 30 institutions of the government of Costa Rica, crippling the territory for two months. Double and triple extortion attacks are now the norm – besides the encryption of systems, sensitive data is increasingly stolen and used as a leverage for extortion demands to business partners, suppliers or customers.
  • Business Interruption (BI)- Cyber incidents are the cause of business interruption feared most by respondents to the survey. Severe BI can result from a wide range of cyber- related triggers, including malicious attacks by criminals or state-backed hackers, human error or technical glitches. Hackers increasingly target both digital and physical supply chains providing opportunities to simultaneously attack multiple companies and gain additional leverage for extortion. A number of other BI-related risks have climbed this year’s rankings, reflecting the economic and political consequences of the pandemic and war in Ukraine. The energy crisis is a new entrant to the 2023 survey, while concerns for macroeconomic developments, political risks, shortages of labor and critical infrastructure failure all increased this year. However, pandemic plunged down the list of concerns as vaccines saw an end to lockdowns and restrictions in most major markets. The exception? China sees pandemic risk rise year-on-year (from #9 to #3) – the only country in the survey to see this trend.
  • Energy Crisis-The cost of energy has forced some energy-intensive industries into crisis, have resulted in a cost-of-living crisis and the threat to temporarily cut production, find energy efficiencies, or move production to alternative locations. The resulting shortages threaten to cause supply disruption across a number of critical industries, including food, agriculture, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, construction and “Inflation will affect business interruption exposures, manufacturing, forcing companies to seek alternatives or cheaper sources of ingredients and raw materials.
  • Insolvencies– After two years of decline, a broad-based acceleration is expected, according to Allianz Trade. Global business still registering prolonged low levels of insolvencies, but insolvencies should rise in 2023 (+19%), after +10% in 2022, a significant rebound which may bring global insolvencies back above their pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year (by +2%) it predicts.
  • Macro Economic– The US, China and Europe are in crisis at the same time, albeit for different reasons.
    • In Europe, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis are at the forefront: exploding energy prices are driving inflation to ever new heights and “eating” into the entire price structure. The result is falling real incomes with policies that allowed it to overheat and then brutally affect corporate profits, with corresponding consequences for consumption, production and investment. Restrictive monetary policy to contain inflation expectations is rather counterproductive in this situation, but without alternative.
    • China- much less affected by the war in Ukraine (and actually benefits from cheap energy supply from Russia). Two points are noteworthy: the easing of the strict 0- COVID policy will stress test the Chinese economy, while the weakness of the huge real estate sector remains a drag on consumer sentiment.
    • US- The ill-timed and oversized fiscal packages during and shortly after the pandemic fueled inflation. This has somewhat belatedly – brought the Federal Reserve onto the scene, which is now trying to put the genie back in the inflation bottle with hefty interest rate hikes. The accompanying tightening of financing conditions is forcing companies and households to cut spending and is leading the economy straight into recession. Nowhere is this more evident than in the US housing market. With rising rates, financial stability risks are back, complicating the task for central bankers who are determined to fight inflation.
  • Pandemic– drops to #13 on this years Allianz list
  • Changes in Legislation and Regulation– The energy crisis has made it clear: there is no way around decarbonizing the economy. This requires not only billions in investments in new technologies, but also a comprehensive redesign of corporate reporting, helping to ensure compliance challenges remain a top five risk. More and more new rules, standards, levies and sanctions will not bring the international flow of goods to a standstill, but they throw a spanner in the international division of labor.
  • ESG– The war in Ukraine, the changing labor market post-Covid-19, and sustainability concerns are helping to ensure environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns are high up the corporate agenda, but a lack of expertise is an issue.
  • Natural Catastrophes– Insured losses are estimated at 115 BN led by hurricane Ian which struck Florida in September and was the years costliest event, well other notable events included widespread flooding across South Asia leading to the deaths of 3500 people, the devastating heat waves suffered by Europe and China, and winter storms in Europe.


Definitions from Allianz 2023 Risk Barometer: Cyber incidents (e.g. cyber crime, malware/ransomware causing system downtime, data breaches, fines and penalties); Business interruption incl. supply chain disruption); Macroeconomic developments (e.g. inflation, deflation, monetary policies, austerity  programs); Energy crisis (e.g. supply shortage/outage, price fluctuations); Changes in legislation and regulation, (e.g. trade wars and tariffs, economic sanctions, protectionism, Euro-zone disintegration); Natural catastrophes (e.g. storm, flood, earthquake, wildfire, extreme weather events); Climate change (e.g. physical, operational and financial risks as a result of global warming); Shortage of skilled workforce; Fire, explosion; Political risks and violence (e.g. political  instability, war, terrorism, civil commotion, strikes riots, looting.

Conclusions and Observations

(from NCU, Protivity)2:
  1. There are diverse risk perspectives across the C-suite and boardroom. There is noticeable variation among different leaders about what risks are most critical, highlighting the importance of engaging in conversations about the most significant risks for their organizations;
  1. A long-term view of risks is vital in navigating the near term. As organizations manage the challenges 2023 brings, they should also prepare for the long term by addressing issues noted in this survey, including effectively transforming legacy IT infrastructures, emphasizing the customer experience, investing in future growth opportunities, ensuring privacy and security, and advancing capabilities o deploy advanced data analytics. A long-term outlook helps companies focus on where to invest to be more resilient for the unexpected and better prepared for the next phase of growth.
  1. Risk management, as a discipline, is becoming more critical for success, with executives and boards expressing an over-all higher likelihood to invest in strengthening risk management in 2023.


  1. Allianz Global Risk, “Allianz 2023 Risk Barometer”,
  2. NCU and Protivity, “Executive Perspectives on Top Risks 2023 & 2032” ,
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