WTW and Clyde & Co reveal D&O considerations in COVID-19 period


As the economy grapples with the change in labor practices enforced by COVID-19, cyberattacks and data loss remain the top risks for Directors & Officers (D&Os), according to a global survey by Willis Towers Watson and international law firm Clyde & Co.

The survey, which spanned the UK, Europe, Asia-Pacific and the US, found that 56% of respondents rated cyberattacks as a very significant or extremely significant risk. It was followed by data loss (49%), regulatory risk (46%), health and safety risk (41%), and job entitlement (38%) to round out the top 5.

In Asia Pacific, 42% of respondents named cyberattacks as their top concern. According to Willis Towers Watson, this could be due to the surge in publicly known data breaches in the region over the past 18 months, coupled with the trend towards tightening data protection laws. The data protection regulations of some Asian jurisdictions are increasingly in line with the GDPR of the European Union, which is known as one of the strictest regulations in the world.

The study also reported the following results:

  • The increased vulnerability to data loss results from the fact that companies are switching to new procedures and systems overnight due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with remote work creating fertile ground for cyber criminals.
  • Regulatory risk and litigation continue to pose challenges for companies as board diversity now becomes mandatory for most companies. and
  • The expected insolvency concern was significantly lower than in the last survey, despite speculation about a possible wave of insolvencies.

“The survey results reflect a growing awareness that cyber risk is not just an issue that needs to be addressed by a corporate IT team,” said Jennifer Tiang, regional cyber director for Asia at Willis Towers Watson.

“It’s a much broader topic that spans all lines of business and necessarily brings together stakeholders from risk, legal and IT teams, and requires deep awareness of all employees and top-down oversight of the board. From cyber attacks to data loss, the financial impact of a cyber event can be catastrophic. “