‘Terrorism will affect stability’

One in three finance directors think business is at risk of permanent instability due to recent increases in global terrorism.

The week’s Accountancy Age/Reed Accountancy Big Question found that 32% of those asked agreed that a further rise in terrorism could permanently destabilise business. However over half were sure of business’ resilience in the face of such acts, while 14% were unsure of the long-term consequences.

Recent weeks have seen terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Chechnya, an increase in the number of suicide bombers in Israel, threats to UK interests in Kenya and fears that Al-Qaeda is once again active in plotting an attack on the scale of that on the World Trade Center. This in turn has increased concerns that business can cope in this international climate.

‘The more frequent these attacks are the more it will affect business stability,’ said one FD, while another commented: ‘I think that people will be more choosy with who they deal with, especially in the Middle East.’

One respondent said that it would inevitably destabilise business ‘because of the type of terrorism it is, its aim is to specifically undermine business’.

George Sutherland, financial director at Edinburgh University, said: ‘The impact on travel alone can only hamper international trade and an increasing need to focus on security will divert management attention and resources from core commercial activity.’

Many, though, were still convinced that business will stay strong whatever is thrown at it by terrorists. ‘Business has been living under the threat of terrorist attack for the last two years and the global economy hasn’t collapsed,’ said Sandeep Vohra, financial controller at Europ Assistance.

Several respondents claimed that business was capable of evolving to accommodate the threats of terrorist action while another said: ‘There is a danger of blowing up the threat into something bigger than it really is.’

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