Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2017

Key Issues Being Discussed in the Boardroom and C-Suite

The impact of the Brexit vote in the U.K., increased volatility in commodity markets, polarization surrounding the 2016 presidential election in the United States, terrorist events, asset bubbles in China, continued discussion about fair wages and income equality that includes calls for raising the minimum wage, and ongoing instability in the Middle East and the unprecedented Syrian immigration in Europe are only some of the drivers of uncertainty affecting the global business outlook for 2017. Entities in virtually every industry and country are reminded all too frequently that they operate in what appears to many to be an increasingly risky global landscape. Rapidly escalating concerns about political and economic stability, data breaches and related cyberattacks, and continued incidents of terrorism vividly illustrate the reality that organizations of all types face risks that can suddenly propel them into global headlines, creating complex enterprisewide risk events that threaten brand, reputation, and, for some, their very survival. Boards of directors and executive management teams cannot afford to manage risks casually on a reactive basis, especially in light of the rapid pace of disruptive innovation and technological developments in a digital world.

Protiviti and North Carolina State University’s ERM Initiative are pleased to provide this executive summary that highlights key findings in our full report focusing on the top risks currently on the minds of global boards of directors and executives. This executive summary highlights results from our fifth annual risk survey of directors and executives to obtain their views on the extent to which a broad collection of risks are likely to affect their organizations over the next year.

Our respondent group, comprised primarily of board members and C-suite executives, provided their perspectives about the potential impact in 2017 of 30 specific risks across these three dimensions:1

  • Macroeconomic risks likely to affect their organi- zation’s growth opportunities
  • Strategic risks the organization faces that may affect the validity of its strategy for pursuing growth opportunities
  • Operational risks that might affect key operations of the organization in executing its strategy

This executive summary provides a brief description of our methodology and an overview of the overall risk concerns for 2017, followed by a review of the results by type of executive position. It concludes with a discussion of questions executives may want to consider as they look to strengthen their overall risk management processes.

Our full report (available at or contains extensive analysis of key insights about top risk concerns across a number of different dimensions, including a breakdown by industry, size of company, type of ownership structure, geographic locations of company headquarters (i.e., based in either North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific or other regions), and whether the organization has public debt.

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