The last couple of years, and especially the financial crisis, focused corporate leaders mightily on the importance of enterprise risk management and the shortcomings of their ERM efforts. Now that focus has risen to the board level, with companies and regulators alike considering whether there should be specially designated committees of directors whose task is monitoring risk.

"There certainly is a trend here," says Gerry Dixon, global and Americas risk leader at Ernst & Young. "Every client we have is at least having a discussion about whether to establish a separate risk committee on their board."

"Boards of directors are more and more focused on risk these days," agrees Laura Taylor, global practice leader for ERM at Aon. In general, boards' audit committees oversee risk, but Taylor sees a trend toward setting up special risk committees.

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