From threat to opportunity

PwC’s Global Risk Survey 2023

PwC's Global Risk Survey
  • Survey
  • 15 minute read

How a tech tipping point is fueling reinvention, resilience and growth

If we don’t take risks, we don’t progress. Taking risks intelligently is the only way organisations can reinvent and transform to survive, create value and prosper in this time of uncertainty, while building resilience to protect value in the face of complex, ever-changing risk.

PwC’s Global Risk Survey 2023 reveals how leading organisations are changing the way they see risk by embracing the transformative power of technology and data in pursuit of opportunity and value creation.

Research overview

The 2023 Global Risk Survey was designed to capture views of the top risks organisations face across industries in 2023. It focuses on the evolving risk landscape and how approaches to managing risk can differ from a value protection versus value creation and human-led versus tech-powered mindset.

The final results are based on 3,910 survey responses from business and risk management leaders across 67 territories, providing their views of the status and direction of risk in their organisation. Survey responses are from a range of industry sectors and organisation sizes, with over a quarter from USD 5 billion-plus organisations.

Here we present the responses collected from the 82 business and risk management leaders who participated in the survey in Switzerland. We’ll be focusing on the trade, industry and services industries (excluding financial services and government/public sector), giving a base of 37 responses in total.  

Key insights

Executives confident in balancing growth and risk, but with some reservations

Executives appear confident that they can balance growth with managing risk effectively. However, only one-fifth are ‘very confident’​.

There is also misalignment when it comes to perceptions of the strategic value the risk function provides, with CEOs less likely than risk executive respondents to agree that the risk function contributes, for example, by bringing risk insights to the board for better oversight, guiding the business through complex change or challenging senior management.

For example, 60% of risk executives say they are already providing senior management with insights into new and emerging risks; only 54% of respondents from the wider business—CEOs, the board, operations, tech and finance—share this view.

This disconnect is also evident in PwC’s Global Internal Audit Study 2023, with business leaders stating that they want strategic engagement with internal audit to happen earlier and more proactively. Despite this wish, only around a fifth of executives ranked strategic thinking and the ability to challenge constructively as key strengths of internal audit. Almost half (49%) said that internal audit is not strongly aligned with other lines when it comes to key risks and challenges.

We see far greater alignment between the CEO/board and risk among what we call the risk pioneers, the top-performing 5% of organisations identified in our survey, spread across all industry sectors, who are forging ahead in the pursuit of opportunity. Almost a third (32%) of these risk pioneers stated that their own risk appetite precisely matched that of their CEO and board, compared with just 22% of overall respondents.

This leadership disconnect needs to be resolved if risk management is to amount to more than value protection and a reactive response to threats. Fostering greater collaboration between the risk function, leadership and the wider business and having more strategic conversations earlier in the process are key if organisations are to find opportunities where competitors may still see risk.

Companies prioritise established tools for risk management

Organisations are more focused on leveraging established tools (cybersecurity, cloud) to navigate risk than emerging technologies (AI, blockchain).

There is a clear ambition among most organisations to take a more tech-powered approach to risk, reflected in their intention of investing in AI, machine learning, automation, cybersecurity and the cloud. But many respondents are still at relatively early stages of maturity in their use of technology and data for managing risk. Just one in ten organisations is already using advanced and predictive analytics, cutting-edge tech and data for managing risk and is continuously refining and innovating.

Respondents prioritise investments in cybersecurity and automation technologies

Significantly more than half of respondents prioritise investments in cybersecurity tools – to mitigate cyber risks cited as a key threat – and AI, ML and automation technologies.

Our survey shows relatively strong investment currently in resilience initiatives such as investing in upgrading critical systems to be more resilient against cyber-attacks and investing in AI, machine learning and automation technologies. There remains room for improvement in initiatives such as establishing risk management software and specialist monitoring tools, as well as expanding the network of key suppliers as part of business continuity plans.

Companies acknowledge external disruptors as opportunity amidst risks

Companies recognise that external disruptors represent an opportunity, but regulation, changing labour and skill requirements or expectations and new entrants from adjacent industries still pose a greater risk.

Companies in Switzerland appear to be more cautious and risk-averse than the global average. While recognising that external disruptors represent an opportunity, Swiss companies still perceive regulation, changing labour and skill requirements or expectations, and new entrants from adjacent industries as greater risks.

For instance, while executives see supply chain disruption as mostly or fully an opportunity, it seems that Swiss companies are more inclined to perceive it as a risk, given their heightened concerns regarding changing labour/skills requirements, new entrants from adjacent industries and changes in regulation. Similarly, while 43% of global risk pioneers consider the transition to new energy sources to be mostly or fully an opportunity, it appears that Swiss companies may be less optimistic about this transition, possibly owing to regulatory uncertainties or other concerns.

Swiss companies may prioritise risk mitigation over seizing opportunities presented by external disruptions, which could reflect a more conservative approach to business strategy.

Executives embrace tech-powered and human-led strategies equally

Executives were equally likely to ‘strongly agree’ with statements regarding the adoption of both tech-powered and human-led approaches in their organisation.

As mentioned above, our survey reveals a top-performing 5% of organisations spread across all industry sectors—identified in the research as risk pioneers—who are forging ahead in the pursuit of opportunity. Underpinned by strategic enterprise-wide resilience and guided by a human-led, tech-powered approach, these pioneers are significantly more likely than other organisations to be upskilling internal teams and making greater use of advanced analytics, predictive modelling, cybersecurity tools and the cloud to navigate risk. And they are more likely to see emerging technologies such as GenAI as an opportunity rather than a risk.

As a result, risk pioneers are better at aligning the way they navigate risk with business strategy to achieve a greater range of outcomes and value—from more robust regulatory compliance and streamlined reporting to enhanced customer trust and identifying new commercial opportunities.

It should not be assumed that the more reactive and protection-focused nature of some of the archetypes within this quadrant signals a lack of ambition or a lack of intent to shift towards value creation. In turbulent economic conditions and disruptions that have affected some industries more than others, these organisations may be constrained in their ability to invest in the talent and technology needed, or may feel exposed to risks so significantly that value protection is currently seen as the best and only outcome.

Compliance and competitive advantage over financial performance

Swiss organisations have prioritised more robust compliance and building competitive advantage over achieving improved financial performance through risk mitigation and better alignment of risk management with business strategy.

Swiss organisations are excelling in aligning risk management with business strategy, resulting in a wide array of benefits such as robust regulatory compliance, streamlined reporting, enhanced customer trust and the identification of new commercial opportunities.

However, there remains a significant gap in certain areas. While approximately two-fifths of organisations have enhanced their risk management to strengthen customer trust and regulatory compliance, fewer than a third have achieved success in other crucial areas. This indicates a substantial opportunity for organisations to leverage technology more effectively, creating value and seizing opportunities from risk.

Specifically, Swiss organisations demonstrate strong compliance with regulatory standards, with 41% already achieving it. However, there is less optimism regarding their ability to improve risk forecasting accuracy (16%), expand into new markets (11%) or enhance response time to emerging risks (11%). These insights underscore the need for organisations to address these gaps to enhance the effectiveness of their risk strategy and provide strategic value.


Organisations exposed to technology and health risks in threat landscape

Across the threat landscape, organisations are most exposed to tech-related risks such as cyber and digital and technology risks, as well as to health risks.

Cyber risks are the top tech-related threats to which Swiss executives feel most exposed, while other digital and tech risks are almost as high as health risks, climate change and macroeconomic volatility. A third of CEO respondents in our survey say they feel highly or extremely exposed to cyber risk, while leaders primarily responsible for managing risk ranked cyber risk above inflation.

Technology is creating an appetite for risk and confidence in managing risk is high


of Swiss executives feel highly exposed to cyber, digital and technology risks


of Swiss executives are very confident that their organisations can balance growth with managing risk effectively

1. Technology is creating an appetite for risk

  • Cyber and digital and technology risks rank very high in executives’ threat landscape, with 43% and 59% (respectively) feeling extremely or highly exposed.
  • Further risks lie in regulatory changes, labour and skill shifts, new industry entrants and health risks.
  • External disruptors like new energy sources and changing customer demands are seen as both opportunities and risks.
  • Technological disruptors, particularly Gen AI, are seen by the majority as an opportunity.
  • Companies in Switzerland invest 20% more than the global average in cybersecurity tools and 10% more in AI, machine learning and automation technologies, but over 15% less in risk management software and specialised monitoring tools.
  • Only a quarter have an organisation-wide technology strategy and roadmap that includes investment in technologies specifically designed to promote resilience and/or manage risk.

2. Confidence in managing risk is high, but there may be a disconnect between perception and readiness

  • Only 19% of executives in Switzerland are very confident that their organisation can balance growth with managing risk effectively, and a further 73% are somewhat confident.
  • Very few executives are investing across the board to improve resilience and navigate risk.
    A majority of organisations are either at the start of their implementation journey or scaling up, while relatively few are already realising benefits from their risk management programme.
    Although there are some examples of executives demonstrating leading risk management behaviours, overall there is a considerable opportunity for improvement, with only 3% to 11% realising benefits from all the risk management approaches measured.


Contact us

Alexandra Burns

Partner, Leader Financial Services Risk Consulting & Internal Audit, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 46 28


Richard Thomas

Partner, Risk Consulting, Risk Consulting Leader TIS (Trade, Industry, Services) and Internal Audit, PwC Switzerland

+41 79 816 27 00