Risk experts and the public share view of risk horizon

Opinions on the UK's risk outlook have converged amongst the general public and the risk management community, as both groups have been found to consider geopolitical instability and energy risks among the top three risks on the horizon.

This is among the findings of AXA’s Future Risks Report 2022, published today, which shows energy risks as more of a concern in the UK and Europe than elsewhere in the world, with 78% members of the UK public feeling vulnerable to it in daily life.

The key reasons for citing energy risks as a priority are rising prices and supply problems, according to the study. This was particularly the case in the UK and across Europe, where energy supplies are most directly affected by the war in Ukraine. Respondents felt that the rise in energy costs, as well as the general cost of living crisis, could lead to social unrest and geopolitical instability.

The annual report also revealed that geopolitical instability ranked higher than before, with UK experts putting it in second place after climate change, and the UK public placing it fourth after climate change, energy risks and pandemics and infectious diseases.

Some 78% of risk experts, and 74% of the public felt that geopolitical tensions are getting more and more serious and could lead to a new era of global wars. The UK public felt this most strongly compared with all other regions surveyed. The vast majority of people are concerned about geopolitical tensions leading to issues with the UK’s food and energy supply (98% of experts felt this was an important consequence of tensions, alongside 93% of the public).

Now in its ninth consecutive year, AXA's Future Risks Report, produced with IPSOS, is a global study which measures and ranks changes in the perception of emerging risks via a survey of 4,500 risk experts from 58 countries and 20,000 members of the public from 15 countries.

For the second year running, climate change was the top concern for both experts and the public in the UK. Experts in all regions across the world ranked climate risk as the top risk for the first time.

Globally, both experts and the public agreed that climate change has the potential to have the biggest impact on society in the next five to 10 years, but few believe that public authorities are prepared to face the risk.

Risk professionals believe that people around the world are becoming more vulnerable to risks, as rising geopolitical tensions combine with climate concerns and the ongoing fear of pandemics.

The findings also reveal growing concerns about financial stability which point to the economic uncertainty brought about by the cost-of-living crisis. Almost half of the UK public feel vulnerable in everyday life and the report revealed that the UK is more risk averse than the rest of the world, with 68% of respondents saying they try not to take risks.

“At a time when there is so much unrest and people are struggling, it is no surprise that issues such as energy risks and geopolitical instability feature so highly, not just in the UK but globally,” said Claudio Gienal, CEO of AXA UK and Ireland. “It’s concerning that such a large proportion of people feel vulnerable to the risks that surround us and have little confidence in either the Government or private organisations to mitigate them. In this climate of growing vulnerability, mistrust and scepticism, insurers can offer people reassurance by providing support and helping to protect against a range of risks.

“The report confirms that people do recognise the safety net insurance provides and understand its benefits, particularly in these uncertain times. However, we need to continue working hard to raise awareness among those who perhaps don’t yet understand the importance of having protection for what matters to them and how this can help reduce these feelings of vulnerability.”

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