CEOs feel better about companies' prospect in 2014, says survey

PETALING JAYA (Jan 23, 2014): CEOs are feeling better about their companies' prospects in 2014 as they believe the global economy will improve in the next 12 months, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) 17th Annual Global CEO Survey.

However, they still have long lists of worries about over-regulation, fiscal deficits and tax policy higher than ever.

The annual survey conducted by PwC which surveyed 1,344 CEOs in 68 countries during the last quarter of 2013, showed that 39% of respondents are very confident their company's revenues will grow in 2014.

Regionally, the survey said CEOs in Western Europe (50%) are the most confident about the short-term global economic prospect, in line with signs of improving conditions. They are followed by those in the Middle East (49%), Asia Pacific (45%), Latin America (41%), North America (41%) and Africa (40%) while CEOs in Central and Eastern Europe show the lowest level of confidence at 26%.

By industry, it said CEOs in the hospitality and leisure sector are most confident about prospects for the next 12 months (46%), followed by those in banking and capital markets (45%), retail (44%), financial services (44%), asset management (44%), communications (44%), and engineering & construction (41%) while CEOs in the metals industry are least confident at 19%.

PwC International chairman Dennis M. Nally said CEOs have begun to regain confidence and they have successfully guided their companies through recession and now more CEOs feel positive about their ability to increase their revenue and prospects for the global economy.

However, Nally said CEOs also acknowledge that generating sustained growth in the post-crisis economy remain a challenge, especially as they deal with changing conditions like slowing growth in the emerging markets.

"In the future, CEOs tell us that they expect three major global trends – rapid technological advances, demographic changes and shifts in economic power – will have a major impact on the future of their businesses. Finding ways of turning these global trends to their advantage will be the key to future success," he added.

He pointed that CEOs are also more positive about hiring plans for the coming year. Half of CEOs say they expect to add staff in the next 12 months, compared to 45% who had such plans last year.

He said industries where job prospects look most positive are technology, business services and asset management.
As the global economy stabilises, he said CEOs have identified major trends that will transform their business over the next five years.

To meet the challenges, he said CEOs are making changes to their talent strategies, customer growth and retention strategies, technology investments, organizational structure/design and use and management of data.