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Growth in CEOs confidence good for business in Jamaica

Published:Monday | February 6, 2017 | 12:00 AMMcPherse Thompson
Leighton McKnight

Chief executives around the world are more confident in their own growth prospects in 2017 as their outlook for the global economy are back on the rise, with 52 per cent of them planning to increase the number of jobs.

That is the conclusion from a survey of CEOs conducted by consulting and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) during the last quarter of 2016 and released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, recently.

PwC Jamaica leader, Leighton McKnight said "the positive trajectory of CEOs confidence augurs well for business expansion and growth in Jamaica."

Global chairman for PwC, Bob Moritz, according to a release from the local office of the accounting firm, said that "despite a tumultuous 2016, CEO confidence is moving back up, albeit slowly, and still a long way from the levels we saw back in 2007."

However, he said "there are signs of optimism right across the globe, including in the UK and US where, despite predictions of a (Donald) Trump slump and a Brexit exit, CEOs confidence in their companies' growth are up from 2016. And that mood is reflected elsewhere, with more CEOs across the world targeting the US and UK for investment than a year ago".




McKnight said "the increase in global investments provides excellent opportunities for local businesses".

The survey found that in sharp contrast to 2016, CEOs' confidence in their own one-year revenue growth is on the rise in nearly every major country across the world.

The findings show that while business leaders are more positive in their outlook, their levels of concerns about economic uncertainty, over-regulation and availability of key skills remain very high.

In addition, worries about protectionism are growing, with 59 per cent of CEOs concerned, increasing to 64 per cent for those in the United States and Mexico.



CEOs not so gung-ho about globalisation


PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said that while positive on the benefits of globalisation in building the free movement of capital, goods and people, CEOs question whether globalisation has done anything to close the gap between rich and poor or mitigate the issue of climate change.

"This is in contrast to the first PwC CEO survey in 1998, when the executives were positive about the drivers of globalisation," the company said.

In the survey, PwC found that 58 per cent of business leaders think it has become harder to balance globalisation with rising trends in protectionism.

For the past 20 years, PwC said CEOs have been largely positive about the contribution of globalisation to the free movement of capital, goods and people. However, this year's survey respondents are sceptical that it has mitigated climate change or helped close the gap between rich and poor.

The firm said that is similar to the public's view on these issues in a separate consumer poll commissioned by PwC of more than 5,000 people in 22 countries.

Almost two thirds, 64 per cent, of the public believe globalisation has helped create full and meaningful employment, contrasting with over three quarters of CEOs, 76 per cent.

PwC said CEOs tell it that technology is now inseparable from business reputation, skills and recruitment, competition and growth. Almost a quarter, 23 per cent, believes technology will completely reshape competition in their industry over the next five years.

"After several high-profile technology and security issues for big companies, CEOs unsurprisingly identify cybersecurity, data privacy breaches and IT disruptions as the top three technology threats to stakeholder trust," said PwC.


Executives plan to increase employment

The accounting firm found that more than half of CEOs, 52 per cent versus 48 per cent in 2016, expect to increase head count over the next 12 months.

By industry, it is CEOs in asset management, 64 per cent; health care, 64 per cent, and technology, 59 per cent, that have the most ambitious hiring plans, with those in government and the public sector, 32 per cent, having the least.

PwC said concern about skills has more than doubled in 20 years, from 31 per cent concerned in 1998 to 77 per cent in 2017, and human capital is a top three business priority, with diversity and inclusiveness and workforce mobility among the strategies being used to address future skills needs.

Skills availability is a concern for over three quarters, 77 per cent, of business leaders, and is highest for CEOs in Africa, 80 per cent, and Asia Pacific, 82 per cent.

Moritz concluded that "CEO's are concerned that key skill shortages will impair their company's growth potential, relevance and sustainability. And it's soft skills that they value the most. ... Bottom line - prioritising the human element in a more virtual world will be a pre-requisite for future success."

PwC's survey was based on interviews with 1,379 CEOs in 79 countries between September and December 2016. It included 57 per cent of chief executives in privately owned companies and 43 per cent in publicly listed companies.