More than half the respondents said data loss, breaches or risks associated with the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are “very” or “extremely” concerning.
Exactly half said cyber-attacks are just as worrying, with the number of public companies experiencing a significant attack or data loss increasing from 30% to 51% this year.
Joanna Page, head of insurance litigation at Allen & Overy, which co-produced the research, warned that it was more important than ever for managers to know their responsibilities were.
“For the first time, we see concerns dominated by the threats of cyber-attack and data loss – fears that are not new but are rapidly moving up the agenda,” she continued.
“If you are a senior manager it is important to be entirely comfortable about the scope of your personal liability protection, and brace for renewed regulatory focus on individual conduct.”
The survey also found that 43% of large companies experienced a regulatory claim involving a director in the last year, with regulation remaining among the top three risks.
Moreover, 60% of the respondents said that a regulatory focus on personal accountability was affecting the decision making process.
Almost three-quarters are worried about the current economic outlook, while 72% are concerned about geopolitical risks, up from 59% last year.
Health and safety legislation impacting on a company’s business is also a significant worry for 37% of respondents, up from just 18% of those surveyed last year.
Francis Kean, executive director at Willis Towers Watson, which co-produced the research, said the depth of concerns raised by senior managers was “striking”.
“Never has there been a more important time for directors to understand the personal liability protections available to them,” he continued.
“From health and safety to criminal activity, from increased risk of employment claims to climate change, the spectrum of potential sources of liability is wider than it has ever been.”