Our Director and Global Head of Risk Management Judy Adams outlines how we have been managing risk in challenging times.

The business actively manages a range of risks and uncertainties. Emerging risks and potential trends are also monitored. Where appropriate, we put in place preventative measures to deal with them.

Not unexpectedly, the global COVID-19 crisis has presented a number of challenges in the last year, with many of our regions still subject to restrictions and remote and mixed-mode working remaining across much of the business.

In some of our jurisdictions, construction has ceased and a number of sectors that we operate in, significantly impacted.

Despite this, we believe the longer-term outlook is positive with opportunities emerging as global wealth shifts from west to east and governments press forward to rebuild cities, renew infrastructure and raise living standards.

The current risks we are managing include the following.

Changing markets

While a number of our markets and segments were affected by COVID-19, we remain cautiously optimistic about the speed and depth of recovery, although volatility remains. By continuing to invest in our global footprint, we remain relevant to our clients and this provides us with additional access to markets.

Routes to market

Changing investment decisions by our clients in the segments we operate in also means we need to have the relevant capability to meet their needs. By upskilling our people as well as investing in existing experts in these fields, will allow us to meet these needs.

Joint ventures also continue to be a route to market, particularly for clients with broad service requirements or where we need to demonstrate a breadth of experience and expertise.

Appropriate due diligence is essential to manage the increased contractual and relationship risks these bring, with decisions taken at executive board level over whether to proceed as well as continuing oversight once successful.

Service model

In addition, we continue to evolve our products, re-engineering and developing new ones that meet our clients’ changing needs. This year, on our continuing journey to remain relevant to our clients, we have made significant investment in skills and technology to help our clients decide what they need, help them build it and then link it with our delivery capability.

Service quality is always at the forefront of our customer experience and is supported through assurance by our leadership.

Client engagement

Client engagement has presented significant challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, where remote working has made face-to face engagement difficult. To counter this, we have looked at alternative ways to engage with our clients and this year have actively deployed our client care app to help check performance.

We also remain aware of changing financial sanctions and the negative impact that working with certain clients and projects could have on our brand and reputation. Ongoing due diligence by our people is vital plus consideration of the global business impact when making local decisions.

Financial exposure

We continue to operate in a highly competitive environment and fee levels remain under pressure. We are focused on responding to the ongoing competitive threat, while keeping a tight rein on our discretionary and overhead expenditure.

Investing in people

We have continued to invest in our talent and our systems and are committed to deep collaboration with clients and partners. Our success reflects the personal contribution made by all of our people who remain at the forefront of our risk management strategy and key to keeping the business safe.

We have also recognised the extra pressures on our teams this year and are actively focused on their wellbeing, tackling post-Covid fatigue by engaging and energising teams through various means and offering external support and other measures to assist our most vulnerable during this time.

Emerging and continuing trends

Two emerging and continuing trends are the threat from cybersecurity attacks and increasing risks associated with fire protection and cladding. We are working with external bodies and our supply chain to protect ourselves; although active management by our people remains a key component in reducing these risks.