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Baker McKenzie partnered with in its annual ranking of the top operational risks for 2021. The report is based on a survey of 100 chief risk officers, heads of operational risk and senior practitioners at financial institutions, including banks, insurers, asset managers and infrastructure providers. These stakeholders chose their five most pressing op risk concerns for the year ahead. With digitization accelerating, it’s not surprising to see IT disruption and data compromise at the top, together with a new entrant this year, employee wellbeing, in tenth place.

The Top 10 Op Risks for 2021 are:

  1. IT disruption
  2. Data compromise
  3. Resilience risk
  4. Theft and fraud
  5. Third-party risk
  6. Conduct risk
  7. Regulatory risk
  8. Organisational change
  9. Geopolitical risk
  10. Employee wellbeing

In our editorial and Q&A, we cover some of the rapid technological changes under way brought about by, and in the wake of, the COVID-19 pandemic. We also talk about important topics around governance, change management, incident readiness, cloud-based infrastructure, and the importance of continued investment and change.

Top 10 Op Risks 2021


Christoph Kurth heads the Compliance & Investigations practice of the Zurich office. Before joining the Firm, Christoph was global head of Litigation & Investigations and general counsel in Asia for a world-leading Swiss bank. For over 10 years, he has led high stakes litigation as well as complex regulatory and criminal investigations across the US, Europe and Asia, and has advised on transformational regulatory developments and wealth management products and services across Switzerland and Asia. In his roles, Christoph has worked closely with business leaders, government authorities and the media, navigating businesses through regulatory and other challenges. Prior to this, Christoph was a litigator in leading practices in Switzerland and the US.