Sustainability is increasingly becoming a (compulsory) programme and ESG criteria pose new challenges for the risk and opportunities management of companies.

At the end of September 2015, the UN member states adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to make our planet a better place to live by 2030. While the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focused primarily on reducing poverty, the new goals focus on sustainable development worldwide.

The ESG criteria of environmental, social and corporate sustainability are also the starting signal for companies to reorient themselves in risk and opportunity management. The big advantage here is that risk managers can continue to apply the proven methods for identifying, assessing, handling and monitoring risks universally.

New, green coat of paint for best practices

The new challenge is to effectively adapt the risk management cycle. Complementary to this, the increasing demand for ethics, equal treatment, justice and human dignity must be taken into account. Reconciling all of this with the ostensible goal of increasing profits is a real challenge that risk managers must face today for tomorrow.

In order to approach the task in a goal-oriented manner, we recommend that risk managers use opportunity management as a guideline. Think ahead, anticipate possible positive and negative influences on the company and thereby strengthen your view of the future!

More important than ever: forecasting and simulation models

Digitalisation has long been an important ally for risk managers. The use of IT-based forecasting models and simulations will continue to gain influence. Simply illustrated, we see this in the dramatic changes in the area of natural disasters and the protective purpose of monitoring and forecasting in this area. The focus will be on the development of preventive measures resulting from possible future risk and opportunity scenarios. Classic corrective measures derived from past experience will continue to be necessary in the background but will contribute much more to standardisation than to innovation. The increasing dynamics in the risk landscape mean that companies will have to adapt to new situations more and more quickly, leaving no time to work through past influences. Unfortunately, we observe this again and again in the area of cybercrime. The developers of protection systems very often move behind the attackers in terms of time, which means they merely react instead of acting.

An essential methodology to approach the view into the future is Business Continuity Management (BCM). This involves evaluating weak points in corporate processes in order to calculate potential damage and derive preventive plans for business continuity measures. This process is rounded off with simulations in which the emergency is trained. The goal is to know what to do when a loss occurs. Particularly in the case of risks that cannot be influenced, such as the supraregional power failure in the context of a blackout, but also in the case of natural disasters, BCM is the only chance to avert or at least reduce expected damage in the best possible way.

In addition to the ability to anticipate, an important task of risk and opportunity management will be to find and apply the right methods to balance the costs of sustainable development goals against the benefits and opportunities.

Competitive disadvantage, yes or no?

One concern of companies committed to ESG is a possible competitive disadvantage compared to those that have not committed to the SDG goals. Consistently identifying opportunities can counteract this, and ESG now sometimes acts as a key innovation driver in the development of production processes, products and services. Classical risk management methods such as the scenario technique or forecasting models also support the methodologically consistent examination and assessment of uncertainties of opportunities here.

The professionals from GrECo

The core competence of GrECo Risk Engineering already consists of flexibly applying and modifying the classic methods of risk management – to a large extent also IT-supported. This enables us to respond specifically to the needs and requirements of our clients. We are happy to take on the challenge of anticipating future risks – and, above all, to point out the opportunities that arise. In this way, strategic considerations regarding risk appetite can be made quickly and flexibly. It also makes it possible to assess the passing on of new risks to the still rather sluggish insurance market at an early stage.

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Johannes Vogl, General Manager GrECo Risk Engineering

Johannes Vogl

General Manager GrECo Risk Engineering

T +43 5 040411160