Real Life Risky Business: U.S. Companies Doing Business Overseas In Jeopardy They Might Not Even Know About

A couple of weeks ago, Chubb Group posted the results of a survey of U.S. companies that are expanding their international operations and the results are startling.  In a nutshell, many of the companies are engaged in risky behavior they might not even realize.  The results are summarized nicely but the stat that stands out the most is the finding that “forty percent of respondents require their overseas suppliers and vendors to have a business continuity plan.”  Which means that 60% of them do NOT require their suppliers and vendors to have a BC plan.

That’s nuts.  Especially considering that survey participants identified the top overseas business threat to be supply chain failure itself.  And really especially considering that nearly half (45%) of the executives surveyed stated that they “noted” (i.e., realized) that overseas risks pose a greater threat to their companies than domestic ones – as opposed to 33% who think it’s just an equal risk – and even more of them (48%) had already experienced at least one loss relevant to conducting business overseas in just the last three years.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

Victoria Bay, Hong Kong. Photo:

Victoria Bay, Hong Kong. Photo:

I’m not arguing against international expansion by any company, large or small.  But know your assets, know your suppliers, know the risks. And most of all, avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket, or you’ll end up exactly where you never want to be – in that 60%.  At Continuity Housing, we help our clients stay out of the 60% by spreading guaranteed housing contracts among several geographically diverse hotels in case more than one area is affected by a disaster that causes a significant business disruption.  In addition, we deploy our team in such a way that the account execs handling any given client are in geographically diverse regions as well.  Just a few examples, because as Chubb Multinational Solutions vice president and worldwide manager Kathleen Ellis sums it up: “Companies have a moral and legal obligation to take care of their employees when they travel on business.”  Remind me to send Ms. Ellis a thank you card.

I’m preaching to you, members of the choir.  Spread the risk.  Reduce your exposure.  Have a backup for your backup.  Especially on foreign soil.  Or, sit back, relax, and belly up to the bar for a leisurely drink with the rest of the 60%.


Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.

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