Are You Prepared for the Next Big Threat?

Evaluating Current and Future Threats


Innovating toward a “New Better” starts with understanding the systemic challenges, coming threats and growing opportunities that companies will face in the future. To better understand how our clients have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and view future risk, Aon commissioned a survey of C-Suite leaders and senior executives in the US, the EU and the UK. The 800 respondents are from companies with at least 500 employees.

As traumatic as the COVID-19 pandemic has been, the business leaders in our survey say it has not been the only disruption they’ve had to manage, naming competitive threats as having an impact on their business this year.

Business Landscape Unpredictable beyond COVID, Forcing Adaptation


Companies Affected by Competitive Threats in Addition to COVID

New Threats

The experience leading their businesses through the pandemic has awakened business leaders to a wider range of threats they will face and the need to address them.

Two-thirds of business leaders in the US, EU and UK say that the pandemic has exposed new vulnerabilities that require significant changes in how they prepare for the future.

More Companies See Pandemic as Representative of Broader Risks

Leaders say that preparedness will require widening the range of threats considered as well as expanding the number of executives responsible for anticipating them.

Execs Want to Grow Stronger, Not Return to Business as Usual

Pandemic Preparedness

Only a minority of leaders in the US, EU and UK say they were “very well prepared” for the pandemic.

Execs that Spent a Great Deal of Time Evaluating Issues Pre-COVID

Survey results show that preparedness is less a matter of predicting which threat will hit, but more an attentiveness to the process and discipline of preparing for threats in general.

Factors that will have a Great Deal of an Impact on Business Over Next 5 years

Preparing for threats also makes leaders more confident in their company’s future.

Preparation Underpins Confidence in the Future

Business Confidence Gap

C-Suite leaders and senior executives share the belief that the COVID-19 pandemic is not a one-time event, but there are significant gaps between C-Suite perspectives and those of senior executives.

C-Suite & Sr. Execs Share the Belief that COVID-19 Isn't a One-Time Event

Senior executives, who were more likely to be dealing with the day-to-day changes forced by the pandemic are both more focused on its impact and less confident in their companies’ ability to manage future threats than C-Suite leaders.

C-Suite Confidence in the Future isn't Shared by Sr. Executives

Future Success

Companies who have best navigated challenges caused by the pandemic shared three qualities in ensuring their success.

  1. Prepare for All ThreatsCompanies that were most prepared for the pandemic were those already investing resources into evaluating threats ranging from governmental policy to IP protection. Dealing with unexpected risks is easier when preparing for expected risks.
  2. Watch the CompetitionAmong companies that gained revenue in 2020, the focus was not just on COVID-19 – it was on the actions of their competitors. Among industries that were most prepared for COVID-19, protecting intellectual property and investing in new technology holds as much importance as planning for the next financial crisis. The threat of being left behind or outperformed should not be lost in a crisis.
  3. Don’t OverreactThe strongest companies are looking to the future with risks in mind, but they are not just looking at the pandemic. Instead, these companies are placing the pandemic in the same tier of risk as threats to their brand or changes in their workforce. Planning for the future requires balance, not reacting to the events of this year.

Financial Times Live Digital Dialogue: Video

How can organizations navigate the transition from crisis to recovery and prepare for success in a future that few of us can define? What risks are top priority for organizations and what mitigation steps are being made in the short, medium and long term to respond to them? This digital dialogue, organized by the Financial Times in partnership with Aon, looked at some of the risks impacting businesses and explored how leaders can curate and execute an effective strategy to better prepare for the uncertainty ahead.

Hear from the following Aon leaders:

  • Greg Case, CEO
  • John Bruno, COO and CEO Data & Analytic Services
  • Lynn Serpico, CEO North America Multinational Clients
  • Julie Page, CEO Aon UK

In conversation with:

  • Rob Armstrong, US Finance Editor, Financial Times
  • Amanda Whalen, SVP and Treasurer, Walmart
  • Izzy Martins, EVP Americas, Avis Budget Group
  • David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman, The Carlyle Group
  • Clare Woodman, Head of EMEA and CEO, Morgan Stanley & Co. International Plc