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New Research From The Economist Intelligence Unit Finds Financial Institutions' Improved Risk Management, Yet Much Work Remains To Be Done

"There is no question that the increased scrutiny by the regulators can be challenging, but risk officers are also starting to understand that some of this regulatory pressure, if it is well thought out, can be quite beneficial to their organizations," said Tim Long, a Protiviti managing director and the firm's global regulatory risk management practice leader. "In fact, nearly 60 percent of respondents admitted that tighter regulatory controls provide stronger assurances to customers, which in turn creates a distinct competitive advantage."

Ongoing Challenges and Obstacles

When asked what the obstacles are to dealing with key risks, 42 percent of the respondents said not having enough people and time; 24 percent indicated a lack of appropriate skills, and roughly 25 percent pointed to inadequate funding.

"As enforcement expands and intensifies without a commensurate increase in resources, the devil is in the details," said Carolyn Whelan, editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit. "Progress has been made, but the research suggests much more can be done to foster a strong risk management culture across the entire enterprise."

Regional Disparities

According to the survey, perception of risk varies considerably by global region, with North American businesses attributing less importance to nearly every category of risk compared to their peer organizations.

For example, when asked to rank the importance of global economic instability, only one-third (33 percent) of North American respondents listed it as a top-three risk compared to nearly half in both Europe (48 percent) and the Asia-Pacific region (47 percent). Additionally, North American institutions are about half as likely (20 percent) as their European (37 percent) and Asian (45 percent) counterparts to consider reputational risk a top priority.

About the Survey

The Protiviti-sponsored survey Restoring Confidence: Risk management capabilities in the wake of the financial crisis was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit in March 2013. To assess the progress of, opportunities for, and shortcomings of financial institutions in meeting new requirements, and to determine areas demanding more focus, the EIU surveyed 350 senior-level executives at financial institutions across the Unites States, Europe, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.

Respondents surveyed included C-level executives and board members (46 percent) and senior vice presidents, vice presidents and directors (21 percent). Of these, about half (53 percent) work in banking, 23 percent in insurance, and the rest in capital markets and private investment funds.

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