There has been a reversal of sentiment for business leaders, according to the local findings of PwC’s 9th Annual CEO Survey, which point to high levels of pessimism for the growth prospects of the global economy. As part of the 23rd global survey conducted amongst 1,581 CEOs from 83 countries, PwC Cyprus held a local survey for the ninth consecutive year, with the participation of a record number of 115 CEOs from Cyprus.
Decline in optimism
The findings indicate a sharp increase in the share of CEOs who expect a slowdown of global economic growth over the next 12 months, at a rate of 57% compared to 20% in 2019 and just 6% in 2018. Accordingly, the number of CEOs who are confident that global economic growth will improve in the upcoming period has dropped. The corresponding rate is 18% a significant decline from 40% in 2019.
However, decreased levels of optimism for the global economy do not seem to have influenced the Cyprus CEOs’ confidence in the revenue growth prospects of their own company over the next 12 months. More specifically, 82% of CEOs in Cyprus are confident about their company’s revenue growth prospects, contrary to business leaders in both the Eurozone and globally, who express a sharp decrease in confidence.
Threats to growth
At the same time, the survey highlights the serious concerns of CEOs in Cyprus over a broad range of threats to their own company’s growth prospects. Geopolitical uncertainty is seen as the biggest threat, with a significant increase in the share of CEOs who are extremely concerned – 52% compared to 36% the previous year. Uncertain economic growth at 32%, the future of the Eurozone at 31% and over-regulation at 30% - a rate almost double that of last year - complete the top four most important economic, social and environmental threats.
When it comes to business threats, CEOs are extremely concerned about the availability of key skills with 38% - up 14% in just a year - the speed of technological change with 34%, cyber threats with 30% and changing consumer behaviour with 30%.
It is worth noting that although CEOs consider the shortage of key skills to be the biggest business threat to growth and agree that retraining/upskilling is the best way to close the skills gap in their organisation, they are not making much headway in addressing the problem, with only 25% of CEOs saying they have made “significant progress” in establishing an upskilling programme.
Presentation of the survey
The results of the survey were presented by Mr Philippos Soseilos, Advisory Partner at PwC Cyprus, during a special event held on Thursday, 5 March 2020. The presentation was followed by a panel discussion that was coordinated by Mr Evgenios Evgeniou, CEO of PwC Cyprus, with the participation of Mr Kyriakos Kokkinos, Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Mrs Christiana Diogenous, CEO of Unicars, Mr Pavlos Christophorou, CEO of MUFG ISFT Ltd and Mr Thanos Chronopoulos, CEO of Epic.
Commenting on the results of the local survey, Mr Evgeniou stated: “The business world is confronted with new challenges. To turn these challenges into opportunities, we must read the signs of the times, capitalise on technology and shape new strategies based on an understanding of the needs of the market. Technology is both a challenge and a powerful asset for the future,” concluded Mr. Evgeniou.
The results are available at www.pwc.com.cy/ceosurvey.