Rising Cyber Threats Worries Chief Executives

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Obinna Chima

Cyber threats have replaced over-regulation as top concern for banking and capital markets (BCM) chief executive officers (CEOs), a survey by PwC has revealed.

According to the study by the global professional services 89 per cent are worried about their cybersecurity, adding that 93 per cent of the CEOs would be investing more heavily in it in 2018. This formed part of the report: “Driving change: no magic solutions, just hard work,” which is part of PwC’s 21th Global Survey. The report highlighted the outcomes of interviews with 188 BCM CEOs around the world.

Furthermore, it showed that the BCM CEOs were bullish about economic growth – 57 per cent believed it will improve over the next 12 months, compared to 30 per cent in 2017.

However, the CEOs’ optimism about the economy hasn’t translated into increasing confidence in the prospects for their own organisations as 38 per cent were very confident about their companies’ ability to boost revenue growth over the next 12 months, down from 40 per cent in 2017.
The pace of technological change (85%) and the closely-related impact of changing consumer behaviour (73%) as threats to growth are rising.

The survey stated that it was probably why less than half (44%) of the BCM CEOswere clear about how robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) can improve customer experience.
Commenting on the report, PwC’s Global Banking and Capital Markets Leader, David Hoffman, said: “There are two types of BCM organisations – those that have experienced a major cyberattack and those that will. Unsurprisingly, nothing is more likely to keep their CEOs awake at night. The importance of cyber protection to customer trust underlines the extent to which cyber threats are a strategic rather than just IT risk.

“Developments such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) make the need for more proactive safeguards, better coordination and more systematic response plans even more pressing.”

Hoffman added: “As the CEO Survey findings underline, the big differentiator is digital transformation, and the breakthrough innovation and boost to growth that stem from it. Get this right and there are opportunities to transform your customer experience and put clear blue water between you and your competitors.

“However, driving change is proving to be exceptionally challenging. In our experience, BCM organisations that have tried to bring in technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA), blockchain and AI without at the same time streamlining and rationalising their core processes have quickly come unstuck. Technology can’t reinvigorate innovation and returns without new ways of working, like human and machine collaboration, and a rethink of how to connect with clients.”

Additionally, the survey showed CEOs realised customer behaviour can’t be addressed without first dealing with the technological disruption that drives them. At the same time, the relatively low level of perceived disruption coming from new competition would suggest that the heat from FinTech is easing off, it added.

It noted that rather than a potential rival, FinTech businesses were seen as a valued source of innovation and talent.
“Capitalising on the potential of new technologies is also as much about talent as tech itself. People rather than systems drive innovation and realise its full commercial potential. As the CEO Survey findings highlight, attracting digital talent is notoriously hard – less than 20% of BCM CEOs see it as easy.

“While much of the focus is on bringing in app developers, robotics engineers and other specialists, it’s just as important to ensure that tech awareness permeates throughout the organisation, including senior leadership.
“It’s also key to consider how to organise talent when humans and machines are now coming to work so closely as part of a hybrid workforce,” it added.