Europe Overview – Global Directors' And Officers' Survey Report 2024

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A review of directors and officers responses in Europe from our Global Directors' and Officers' Survey Report 2024.
Worldwide Corporate/Commercial Law
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A review of directors and officers responses in Europe from our Global Directors' and Officers' Survey Report 2024.

It was with anticipation I opened the latest results of the Global Directors' and Officers' Survey Report 2024. To my delight, I saw that the number of responses from Europe had increased from 37% (in 2023) of the total number of responses, to 42% (in 2024). This means that Europe is, this year again, the biggest region in terms of responses, which is very pleasing. It shows that the directors and officers (D&Os) in Europe see great value in this survey and the results coming out of it.

A new top risk

This year, in an even more uncertain world, the top risk has moved to health and safety in all regions except for Great Britain, where data loss slightly edges out health and safety.

In Europe, the top seven risks are health and safety (83%), followed by cyber attacks (79%), data loss (77%), regulatory breach (72%), bribery and corruption (72%), systems and controls (71%) and breach of sanctions (65%). In 2021 to 2023, cyber attack was considered the biggest risk for D&O´s in Europe. In 2021 health and safety was rated at 40% by the D&O´s in Europe. The risk has been steadily increasing over the four years and are now coming in as the top risk at 83% for the first time in the survey´s history. Health and safety is at the top of the agenda for D&O´s in Europe this is not surprising, with one war on European soil, and concerns on the general security for Europe.

The ongoing risk of cyber

When cyber-attacks was considered the top risk in Europe, the result came in at 72% (2021), going down to 71% in 2022, landing on 67% in 2023. In 2024, cyber attacks had its highest percentage in terms of risk rating for the last four years, coming in at 79%, and was still second to health and safety (83%).

The top result for European D&O´s does not change when you look at the various sizes of companies.

The top result for European D&O´s does not change when you look at the various sizes of companies. From companies with less than US$ 50m revenue to companies with US$ 5 bn revenue or more, health and safety is still the biggest risk for D&Os.

Focussing on industry risks

The picture changes when you look at industries though. For D&Os in the industrial, healthcare, transportation and retail and energy and utilities, health and safety is the number one risk. The service sector has rated data loss as their top risk, closely followed by health and safety.

For the finance and insurance sector, the top risk is cyber-attacks. Interestingly the health and safety risk finds itself placed in number six when the D&Os in finance and insurance look at their risk landscape.

The top result for European D&Os does not change when you look at the various sizes of companies. From companies with less than US$50m revenue to companies with US$5 bn revenue or more, health and safety is still the biggest risk for the D&Os.

The picture changes when you look at industries though. For D&Os in the industrial, healthcare, transportation and retail and energy and utilities, health and safety is the number one risk. The service sector has rated data loss as their top risk, closely followed by health and safety.

For the finance and insurance sector, the top risk is cyber-attacks. Interestingly the health and safety risk finds itself placed in number six when the D&Os in finance and insurance look at their risk landscape. The financial sector is clearly less worried about health and safety compared to their counter parts in other sectors. It is not surprising that cyber attacks top the risks of D&Os in the finance sector. What is surprising is that health and safety is placed at number six for this sector.

What about the environmental risks?

With regard to environmental risks, it is surprising that climate risks do not appear on in the list of top seven risks in Europe. While this is a major concern to the European population, it does not seem to have made its way on to the list of top risks in the board room. In addition, the D&Os view on the climate risk in Europe has not changed, it has not been in the top seven for the last four years of the survey.

Our survey looks at four distinct parts of the environmental risks. The four parts are pollution, climate change and biodiversity, and PFAS.

Our survey looks at four distinct parts of the environmental risks. The four parts are pollution, climate change and biodiversity, and PFAS (Per- or poly-fluorinated alkyl substances). The top risk in this part, is pollution with 58% (this is like the global survey which rates pollution at 57%). The second risk in this category is climate change is rated at 52% in Europe and 55% globally. The third risk in this group is biodiversity landing at 37% (39% globally). Finally, we have PFAS which has a lower risk percentage in Europe at 28% compared to 33% globally.

It is worth mentioning that climate change has gone up from 34% in 2022 to 52% in 2024. (do also note that prior to 2023, the survey did not split out the environmental risks as we do today, the question was only about climate change).

Another point of note is that financial risks, such as insolvency, bankruptcy and financial distress is only considered to be a 'very important' or 'extremely important' risk by 52% of European respondents. However, this percentage has increased over the last four years, from 30% in 2021 to 52% in 2024. Whether this trend continues, remains to be seen.

To conclude

All in all, this year´s survey results have proven very interesting from a European perspective, and I hope you will take the time to investigate the results on a deeper level.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Europe Overview – Global Directors' And Officers' Survey Report 2024

Worldwide Corporate/Commercial Law

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