APAC companies more prepared in pandemic response

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Aon plc has released a global survey, ‘Reprioritizing Risk and Resilience For a Post-COVID-19 Future’ in 1Q 2021. The survey results revealed that reprioritising risk and exploring new risk management strategies are now the top priorities for businesses.

The report identified differences in how businesses have responded to the COVID-19 crisis, by region.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 52% of respondents in APAC already had a pandemic plan in place, compared to 31% in North America and less than 30% in both EMEA and LATAM.

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Organisations in APAC were also better supported by state-run track-and-trace technology and had built more robust pandemic programmes in response to similar threats in the past, such as SARS and the Swine Flu. The survey found that across all industries and regions, protecting people and assets was a top priority for participants.

A significant number of organisations from all regions reported being impacted by COVID-19 but felt that they had remained resilient: 57% of businesses in APAC, followed by LATAM and North America, each at 51%.

APAC respondents showed a higher percentage of accelerated innovation (12%), especially on supply chain issues, due to the forced improvements made while managing the COVID-19 crisis. This aligns with the survey findings that respondents from the APAC region were better prepared than those from other parts of the world in their pandemic response.

APAC also reported significantly higher numbers of businesses thriving during the pandemic at 11%, compared to 6% in other regions. Furthermore, only 5% of APAC organisations said the impact of the pandemic was severe, which could be linked to their risk maturity and resilience and ability to pursue opportunities created by the pandemic.

Fluctuating pandemic infection rates within regions influenced which stage businesses found themselves in (“react and respond”, “recovery” and “reshape”). For example, North America has the highest proportion of organisations in the ‘recovery’ phase (59%), while APAC has the lowest number in that phase, with 39% of organisations.

APAC organisations reported being in the “reshape” phase in higher numbers than the benchmark–36% of APAC organisations compared with 29% overall.

Despite these differences, one core theme emerged: more than half of companies surveyed globally reported that they expect COVID-19 will continue to impact their business a year from now.  

Rory Moloney, Chief Executive Officer, Global Risk Consulting, Aon, said: “There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic will permanently change the way companies operate. There is a long way to go before we are in the ‘post-COVID era’, but as we move towards a recovery phase, companies must now ask what risk management and resilience should look like going forward.

“Among the top priorities for companies seeking to reshape their business are the new and accelerated use of technology, redeploying resources, workforce planning and rethinking the future of work — this is only the beginning of a much more long-term evolution in risk management.”

Alastair Nicoll, Regional Director, Captive & Insurance Management, Global Risk Consulting, APAC, Aon, added: “Government response has been a necessary stopgap for a global event of this size, but our survey reveals that there is also a clear need for risk transfer solutions to support corporate mitigation efforts. Part of that journey will require companies to rethink access to capital alongside risk, in addition to ongoing collaboration between the public and private sector. 

“Equally important is that the insurance industry innovates in response to companies’ changing needs, increasing global volatility, and emerging risks. Successful insurance solutions in the wake of the pandemic will be more agile, strategic, targeted and scalable.”