Special Features

The new landscape of risk management - critical risks for SMEs

For many UK SMEs, the external and internal risks associated with Covid-19 and Brexit have dominated the landscape in regard to risk management over the past two years, yet as we move in 2022, business leaders will also need to look ahead and widen their risk management strategies to be ahead of any future complications to their day-to-day business operations.

Julianna Forsyth | Marsh Commercial
13th December 2021
Julianna Forsyth
"As well as fundamental changes to where they work, businesses were forced to make changes to how they work, with 42% modifying or planning to modify their day-to-day processes in light of the pandemic."

As part of our recent UK SME Risk Report, we have been able to gauge how businesses’ risk management strategies coped with the recent upheaval, as well as highlighting the areas SMEs should be focusing their risk management strategies on as we move into 2022.

Nothing could have truly prepared business leaders for the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with businesses expected to think fast and find a way to survive. As well as fundamental changes to where they work, businesses were forced to make changes to how they work, with 42% modifying or planning to modify their day-to-day processes in light of the pandemic.

Implementing digitally enabled work processes and backup solutions was also high on the agenda (31%) and will continue to be necessary to support the long-term shift to remote working.

With businesses and the public alike adjusting to the ‘new normal’ in light of Covid-19, many businesses are also turning their attentions back to Brexit and the related risks already impacting them, or on the horizon.

The majority of businesses (56%) said they were worried about ongoing Brexit-related risks and the number one risk worrying businesses was the impact of Brexit on the economy (29%). As Covid-19 pulled focus in 2020, it provided SMEs with a real-time example of the fallout caused when global economies stall — even for the smallest of enterprises, and for those businesses that sought opportunities during the pandemic, there is a strong fear that ongoing Brexit-related challenges will indeed cut their margins.

As SMEs look forward to 2022 and beyond, business leaders will need to widen their approach to risk management in order to continue to manage the ‘new normal’ of a post Covid-19 and Brexit Britain, while also looking at wider concerns that could bring about further uncertainty.

Our report highlighted that the biggest internal risks for SMEs in the new risk management landscape will be financial uncertainty and cash flow concerns, as the continued fallout from the turbulence of the past few years continues to hit businesses hard. Businesses will need to ensure they are prioritising innovation in response to their changing client demands, with a focus on business continuity planning and operational resilience to ensure they are well prepared for any future shifts in the wider business and their industry-specific landscapes.

Climate issues are also high on the agenda as we move into 2022, as the backdrop of the major trials of the past few years have led business leaders to plan ahead for how extreme weather events and climate change could further impact business continuity in the future.

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