Bank chiefs most concerned about cyber attack risk

Hacker and virus threat usurps over-regulation as key finance CEO fear, PwC finds

The threat of a cyber attack is keeping bank and capital market executives awake at night, a new survey shows, which also highlights the need to invest to protect against this risk.

According to a new report from PwC, cyber threats have replaced over-regulation as the top concern of 188 banking and capital markets chief executives from around the world.

Some 89 per cent are worried about their cybersecurity, while a similar proportion – 93 per cent – will be investing more heavily in it in 2018.

“There are two types of banking and capital organisations – those that have experienced a major cyber attack 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 co-ordination and more systematic response plans even more pressing,” said Ciarán Kelly, advisory leader with PwC Ireland.


On economic growth, most respondents were bullish, with 57 per cent believing it will improve over the next 12 months, compared to 30 per cent in 2017.

Fintech disruption

“However, their optimism about the economy hasn’t translated into increasing confidence in the prospects for their own organisations – 38 per cent are very confident about their companies’ ability to boost revenue growth over the next 12 months, down from 40 per cent in 2017,” noted Ronan Doyle, PwC Ireland banking partner.

The threat of disruption from fintech has dissipated, however, with bank chiefs now seeing fintech companies as valued partners for innovation and talent, rather than rivals.

But the survey also highlighted anxieties about the impact of automation and artificial intelligence (AI). When asked whether they are creating transparency over the impacts of automation and AI to help build trust within their workforces, nearly two-thirds of respondents said yes and a further 10 per cent plan to do so in the next 12 months.

However, more than 20 per cent aren’t addressing this issue and have no immediate plans to do so.

David Lee, PwC Ireland technology partner, said: “As the findings highlight, 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.”

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan is a writer specialising in personal finance and is the Home & Design Editor of The Irish Times