PwC CEO Survey shows heightened global concerns

PwC CEO Survey shows heightened global concerns

PwC has conducted a survey that has revealed UK CEOs top concerns compared to CEOs across the globe

According to research conducted by PwC, 61% of UK business leaders expect to increase their headcounts in 2019, despite growing uncertainty—this is up from 54% last year and 53% of global CEOs stated the same.

PwC has reported that this is fuelled by a desire to access key skills needed across future industry in their 22nd annual CEO Survey.

“UK CEOs are also optimistic about their organisation’s growth over the next 12 months, with 82% confident about their revenue prospects, in line with global responses,” PwC stated. “However, this is down on last year, when 88% expected to see revenue growth within the year. There has been a similar dip in confidence about revenue prospects for the next three years (a fall of 6% from 96% in 2018, to 90% in 2019 in the UK.”

When it comes to the progression of global economic growth, UK CEOs have proven to be more pessimistic, with 34% actually expecting a decline over the next 12 months, as opposed to 12% last year. In the same amount of time, CEOs around the globe have risen from 5% to 30% voting to same way on this topic.

Nonetheless, 42% of global business leaders do expect there to be economic growth this year compared to 33% of UK business leaders. When asked whether growth would remain the same, 28% of global business leaders believed this would be more likely, and another 33% of UK business leaders thought the same thing.

Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC, said: “Uncertainty is at the forefront of UK CEOs minds, but they know regardless of market conditions; there are always opportunities for growth. By investing in talent, technology, and developing new business models, companies can adapt and innovate to thrive. CEO confidence on hiring is a very positive sign.”

A top concern for business leaders in the UK has been the availability of skilled workers, at 79%. This further highlights their intention to step up recruitment processes within their organisations. 72% of UK CEOs have cited that AI will significantly change the way they conduct business within the next five years.

PwC continued: “However, at this point in its adoption curve, only 2% of UK CEOs have introduced AI initiatives wide-scale, and 36% have no plans to pursue any AI initiatives in the next three years.”

“AI presents a huge opportunity to fuel growth across the UK,” Ellis added. “Business needs to lead the charge, preparing and adopting AI technology and looking beyond recruitment, to training the workforce of the future. This is a chance for UK business to demonstrate its positive role in society, working with government and education providers. New tech apprenticeships are a great example of this starting to happen.”

 Furthermore, across the globe, CEOs are becoming more uncertain as to where it is best for them to invest.

Although the UK remains fourth in the most important market for growth (now joint with India), we still have some work to do if we wish to be comparable with the top three: China, Germany, and the US.

Ellis commented: “For the UK, CEOs’ growing uncertainty about where to expand presents an opportunity to attract new investment following Brexit. It’s time to talk up the UK’s credentials, not only as a competitive place for business, but as a fair and trusted one. We’re at a pivotal moment in economic and political history. Now more than ever, CEOs have the chance to reset the narrative on the role of business in society and build trust.”

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