From the February 2010 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

Emerging Risks

So many emerging risks, so real time. Consider Tiger Woods, says past RIMS president Joseph Restoule, recounting discussions about top global risks at the Risk Management Institution of Australia's annual conference. The power and unpredictability of social media have put a new spin on brand and reputation risk. Companies used to have a week or two to figure out their public relations strategy before a falling skeleton went viral. "Today, you can Twitter and YouTube," Restoule says. "Companies need to look at how to deal with a potential crisis in real time."

Partnership risk is also relevant as M&A activity revives and American companies likely bond with foreign counterparts. "Companies tend to overestimate synergies and underestimate the cultural incompatibility of two entities," he warns. Executive liability, so apparent during the financial crisis, is a greater risk to the enterprise than ever before. "We are in an age of accountability," Restoule says. Likewise, transactions are increasingly vulnerable as cyber attacks rise, making protecting customers' personal data a huge challenge. Another dawning risk: the loss of key personnel. Employees with a lot of company expertise are leaving because of pay changes and lack of pensions, Restoule says.

To be sure, handling the volume of work with limited resources is the biggest hurdle facing the senior executives who responded to Treasury & Risk's annual Middle Market Survey. But, as our coverage in this issue shows, while mid-market companies are still resisting big commitments, they're quickly shedding old ways as they leverage technology to drive efficiency and gain greater cash visibility, meet new challenges and emerging risks, and set the stage for growth.

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