What are the main challenges facing European risk managers - and how are they dealing with them?

A UK survey by StrategicRISK in association with Hugh James, suggests that economic conditions present the greatest challenge, closely followed by issues related to regulation, the insurance market and internal risk control structures and culture. Over half the respondents said that they had terminated, outsourced or divested activities.

Almost all risk managers (94%) agreed that their board was well advised on risk issues, with 65% saying that their non-executive directors had access to independent risk advice. Opinion was divided on whether loss of reputation was more or less important than operational/hazard risks.

Fifty eight per cent felt it was equally important, 36% felt it was more important and just 7% felt it was less important. Exactly half of the risk professionals also felt that their company's degree of preparation for risks to its reputation was just as good as its preparation for other risks.

Results were slightly more perturbing in respect of risk managers' knowledge of legal changes and the effects they might have. Most did not appear to know whether their boards had received advice about the imprisonment provisions of the Enterprise Act.

Few companies appear to have reduced or foregone insurance cover in any class, but most of those that have done so have fully assessed the ability of their companies to sustain uninsured losses.

On the subjects of intermediaries' remuneration and contract certainty, there was general agreement. Nearly four-fifths of those surveyed said they were concerned about lack of transparency, while just under three-quarters felt that contract certainty was achievable without affecting the availability of bespoke cover.