Four emerging risks for corporations

The Corporate Executive Board’s “Risk Integration Strategy Council (RISC)” has released the January 2011 “Emerging Risks Update,” (pdf) noting the following risks on the horizon for enterprise risk managers:

Leaks of sensitive corporate information like strategic planning documents or embarrassing memos (think Wikileaks, which is on its way to becoming a verb, like Google). Strategy: Bolster information security, especially as “new technologies and platforms like cloud computing, SaaS, and social networking gain prominence.”

Shortage of rare earth minerals, an essential component of clean energy technology, computers and electronics (e.g., mobile phones). China controls 97%. Strategy: Other countries (including the U.S.) with deposits of rare earth minerals can open or re-open their mines, “but it can take up to [10] years for a new mine to begin operations.” Meanwhile, “world leaders” must discourage China from unfairly exploiting its position.

Breakup of the euro zone. Sovereign debt crises, reluctant bailouts and the fear of contagion has led some to question the wisdom of sharing a currency with their delinquent neighbors. Strategy: “If one of the (or a few) prominent members bolts out of the league, it could spell disaster for [the euro] as a currency and create bigger problems for the world economy at large. Companies need to assess the impact of this possible scenario and develop mitigation strategies accordingly.”

Fraud in emerging markets. As more companies move into emerging economies like China, India and Brazil, they face “the menace of fraud or corruption.” Strategy: “Develop effective anti-fraud and anti-corruption controls and procedures in your company. Establish a secure whistleblower policy [that] encourages employees to report instances of fraud. You may need to staff your internal audit teams with people who are more conversant with the specific types of fraud committed in these geographies.”


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