SMEs fret over competitive pressure and weak consumer demand 

The FINANCIAL — In a recent study on behalf of Zurich, 3,800 senior executives of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) around the world were asked to list the top three risks faced by their businesses. SMEs are generally more optimistic, and in October 2014, which revealed that new customer segments and cost/expense reduction are the most commonly identified opportunities, shows the report by Zurich Insurance Group.

Most SMEs surveyed are concerned about the risks of high competition and the associated impact of dumping on sales margins, as well as weak consumer demand/overstocking. Theft ranks third among the biggest risks globally, though it is a lower priority than in the prior year. Failure of partners and suppliers was one of the top three risks in the Middle East & Africa (17%), while only 7% of companies in Asia Pacific were concerned about it.

Corruption is a more important risk for SMEs in South Africa (16%), Mexico (13%) and Morocco (13%) than for Europe (7%). Generally, concern about corruption has increased moderately in almost all countries since 2013, and strongly in Switzerland where it rose to 12%, according to Zurich Insurance Group.