Almost two-thirds of the world’s institutional investors are concerned about the impact of cyber security threats on their investments, making it investors’ foremost environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk, according to the 2019 RBC Global Asset Management Responsible Investment Survey.
Of the nearly 800 investors surveyed in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, 67% reported concerns about cyber security. Anti-corruption was the second most prevalent concern, followed by water.
Cyber threats weighed heaviest on U.S. investors, at 71% of respondents. In Canada, 65% of investors cited cyber security as a concern, on par with a number of other ESG risks including climate change and executive compensation but slightly trailing anti-corruption.
In Europe and the UK, 59% of investors expressed concern about cyber security, the lowest of any region. Still, this put cyber security higher than any concerns in the region except climate change (88%) and water (84%).
Cyber attacks can affect the interests of all stakeholders, disrupting a company’s operations, affecting how its employees work and inflicting brand damage that can severely jeopardize customer loyalty and trust.
Clearly, investors are awakening to the profound, business-wide risk created by cyber security vulnerabilities.