Almost half (48%) of UK risk experts have regulatory concerns about the year ahead

Kroll, the leading provider of data, technology and insights related to risk, governance and growth, has found that over a quarter (26%) of UK risk experts expect bribery and corruption risks for their company to increase this year compared to 2021. The findings come as part of Kroll’s newly released 2022 Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) Benchmarking Report, which surveyed 700 risk experts from around the world. Just 8% of UK respondents expected risks to decrease, with the majority (66%) expecting them to remain consistent.

When comparing the UK against the rest of Europe, there are some interesting findings:

  • European respondents are more likely to expect that bribery and corruption risks will increase this year (35% vs. 26%)
  • UK firms are the most positive globally about ABC: 46% of UK respondents say their programme is “very effective,” compared to 40% globally and 39% in Europe
  • Over one in six (17%) European respondents report that serious breaches of compliance are not met with thorough internal investigations, over double the UK figure (8%).

The primary factor driving the increased concern in the UK is the impact of remote working and decentralised management (38%), followed by concerns by one in four firms around disrupted supply chains (23%) and cyber security and data breaches (23%).

Kevin Braine, Managing Director in the Compliance Risk and Diligence practice of Kroll, said: “UK risk officers are more optimistic in their predictions for the year ahead than their European and global counterparts, though it’s clear that some of the legacy impacts of the pandemic, such as supply chain disruption and remote working, are still major sources of concern. These changes will likely be with us for some time yet, so it’s important that businesses find a way to incorporate them into their ABC programmes.”

Regulatory and ESG concerns

Forty-eight percent of UK respondents state that they have concerns regarding what might be on the horizon in the next 12 months for the regulatory environment, vs. 56% globally and 46% across Europe. The main areas of concern in the UK are around increased enforcement activity, new global regulatory requirements and legislation, and an increased focus on supply chain risk and digital operational resilience.

The survey also shows that ESG remains a source of concern for UK businesses: 50% of UK respondents agree that ESG currently creates more challenges than benefits for the compliance function.

Braine continued: “The start of 2022 has been dominated by clear statements of regulatory intent on ESG and it is clearly a growing compliance challenge. Areas of concern around a lack of transparency or regulation, cost, a lack of standardisation and a limited amount of available data are not insurmountable, but they do need to be addressed. Fortunately, the UK seems to be on a path towards more standardisation and convergence; for many businesses, this can’t come soon enough.”

Blockchain usage

Just 14% of UK respondents say they use blockchain as part of their ABC programme, well below the global average of 24% and the European average of 27%. There does seem to be mixed feelings about the use of the technology though—while one in three (32%) UK respondents say they plan to use it in the future, 40% say they have no plans to do so.