Asian risk managers rank digitalisation as riskiest mega trend

Managing cyber risk amid accelerated and super-scale digitalisation is the megatrend that will have the greatest impact on Asian companies and their risk exposure.

This was the finding of a poll of risk managers conducted at the Pan-Asia Risk & Insurance Management Association (PARIMA) conference.

The poll found that almost half (46%) ranked this as their top concern, followed by the challenge of meeting energy needs and decarbonisation goals (35%), the healthcare trillema (12%) and the growth of megacities (5%).

According to Edward Ler, executive vice-president of southeast Asia at Chubb: “We are entering an era of unprecedented advancement in the digital economy. This means cyber risk becomes more and more important for businesses big and small.”

Risk managers also appear to be concerned about the impact of digitalisation on employment levels, especially within the risk and insurance market.

During a panel discussion on the impact of megatrends, an audience member raised the issue of certain professions such as underwriting being “hollowed out” by the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, and suggested that such a risk outweighs the potential benefits of digitalisation.

There is also the challenge of insuring cyber exposures. “The role of insurers is to make us more cyber resilient,” said Mohit Sharma, head of operations Asia-Pacific at Lloyd’s. “Most risk managers are aware of cyber exposure but it remains underinsured. There is still work to be done.”

Cyber also remains a difficult area for insurers to manage, said Willem van Wyk, regional market manager, ASEAN and Australasia, HDI Global SE.

“The dark web and ever more sophisticated cyberattacks are difficult things for underwriters to understand,” said van Wyk. “And it is even harder on the claims side – how do you value reputational risk?”