EY’s Rich Stevens suggests ‘prevention’ will become less important than ‘cure’

Rich Stevens, Associate Director, Global Security, EY   •   Aug, 2018

In my opinion one of the biggest impacts upon the Medical and Security Assistance business is the continued blurring between business travel and leisure travel. This has the potential to re-define the current operating model of the security and assistance business.

Traditionally, business travel and leisure travel had their own distinct set of boundaries, etiquettes and expectations. The two types of travel rarely overlapped. Today, issues such as the increasingly global nature of business, the war for talent and business expansion into new and emerging markets, continue to blur the boundaries for international business travellers.

For the modern, global, workforce this change is not an evolution, but a new-normal, a base expectation, which I see regularly shaping and changing the traveller’s expectation of business travel. Indeed many do not regard business travel as business travel; it is just travel, during which they conduct business. Travellers expect to be able to use all the on-demand services, such as ride sharing apps or gig-economy accommodation services, which they would use in their private lives; and they are very comfortable blending travel-experiences into their business travel programme. These expectations are all changing the characteristic of contemporary business travel.

In this fast paced environment, is traveller expectation over-riding travel risk management and risk ownership? Is the environment also eroding the boundaries, etiquettes and expectations of the modern traveller; and in doing so, creating new acceptable behaviours? Is the concept that an employer would dictate an individual’s behaviour whilst on international travel now even realistic?

A traditional view would be that if the employer is financing the trip, by default they own the travel risk (certainly in a legal sense), and therefore they can specify activities (or behaviours) which are incompatible with their employers duty of care, travel policy or insurance coverage. A more contemporary view would be that so long as business deliverables are completed and clients are happy, all other factors are secondary.

My experience is that there is an increasing natural tension between these two views, which are fundamentally incompatible. Whilst an employee can contribute towards their own negligence, as long as the employer holds an automatic duty of care towards its employees, it is in a catch-22 situation. Organisational travel policies have to reflect the law of the land, which evolves at a much slower pace than travellers expectations and actions.

So long as traveller expectation out-paces the law, the only way to relieve the tension is to change the corporate response away from prevention, and re-focus it toward swift and all-inclusive medical and security assistance. Organisations must ensure they have adequate duty of care measures in place, however, I foresee that organisations will no longer be able to restrict employee’s behaviour and actions when they are undertaking international business travel; and much greater emphasis will be placed upon the medical and security assistance business to provide a highly integrated emergency response, which is tailored to the individual. There is an old adage that ‘prevention is better than cure’; ironically, the blurring of business travel and leisure travel might lead to the situation where cure is a more practical option than prevention.

Richard Stevens MSc is Associate Director Global Security at EY and Director of Education for the ASIS International UK Chapter.


Richard is the Deputy Director (EMEIA) Global Security for Ernst and Young (EY), with a span of security responsibility which covers 400 offices and 125,000 EY employees in 98 countries. In 2018 he was voted 4th on the IFSEC Global Influencers list for Security Management.

Richard is a former Army Officer (Intelligence Corps) with nearly 20 years of military and security experience, which he has brought to the corporate security world.  He has a particular interest on the role intelligence reporting can play in helping identify and manage contemporary threats to organisations; and this interest formed the basis of his MSc Security Management dissertation in 2017.

A converged security advocate by nature, Richard is able to draw on both his Government and Commercial experience of Military Security, Information Security/Information Assurance, Corporate Security and Cyber Security.  He believes passionately that security is not a series of individual ‘functional stovepipes’ but a collective activity to use the best ideas to provide ‘Smart’ solutions to modern security challenges.  Richard has spoken at a variety of Security Industry functions and panels, and is the Director of Education for the ASIS UK Chapter.

The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its

member firms.