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Reputational risk has risen to the top of CEOs’ agendas as public scrutiny of business intensifies, according to the findings of a new survey by KPMG.

Operational and reputational risk were named by CEOs as the biggest concerns they are facing. This is a significant shift from last year when neither category featured in the top 10 list of CEO challenges, and reflects the heightened scrutiny of business practices by government and the public.

Business leaders also confirmed that they are hiring experts to help them understand geopolitical risk. Seven out of ten revealed they had already recruited new specialists into their management teams to help them plan for the future, and mitigate political risk.

Bill Michael, Chair-Elect at KPMG in the UK, said: “Fuelled by global and domestic uncertainty and the increased threats to firms on multiple levels, the business landscape has become incredibly complex. Yet, the CEOs who have ridden the storms facing their sectors over recent years have become more agile, constantly aware of the importance and the fragility of their brands, and doing their utmost to protect them. This has also brought new demands for the CEO: they must be emotionally intelligent to navigate this change and guide and inspire their people through it.”

CEOs confirmed they are investing time to improve their own knowledge of the new pressures facing their business, such as cyber security. 80 percent of those surveyed had attended a course within the last 12 months to help them meet the challenges of their role. However, a significant number are not extending the same opportunity to their staff: 42 percent stated they had no plans to invest in new workforce training over the next three years, except to maintain current business needs.

KPMG's 2017 Global CEO Outlook survey covers 1,261 CEOs in 10 key markets (Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, UK and US) and 11 key industry sectors.

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