Navigating the rising tide of uncertainty

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PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) is the second largest professional services firm in the world.

The range of their interactions with companies and these companies’ leadership is vast, which makes their reports hugely valuable contributions to public knowledge of trends in the corporate world and in the economy as a whole.

PwC’s annual survey of CEOs is one of the firm’s most valuable such contributions, and the 2020 survey is particularly enlightening as it relates the executives’ perspective on corporate and economic trends.  

The news, unfortunately, is not particularly optimistic. “For the first time, more than half of the CEOs we surveyed believe the rate of global GDP growth will decline.

This caution has translated into CEOs’ low confidence in their own organization’s outlook.

Only 27 percent of CEOs are ‘very confident’ in their prospects for revenue growth in 2020, a low level not seen since 2009,” PwC’s “23rd Annual  Global CEO Survey,” released in January 2020, reports.

Aside from some optimism about immediate economic prospects, three other macro conclusions emerged from the PwC survey.

First, CEOs see a coming wave of legislation around internet regulation that will prove consequential to companies and the economy generally.

Second, while upgrading skills in organizations remains a vital priority, the challenges in finding and recruiting talent is an immense challenge, especially with the United States and other economies experiencing historically tight labor markets.

And, third, as the world and private sector, grows increasingly concerned about climate change, private sector reforms around it represent both a threat and an opportunity.

Companies in Western Europe and Asia-Pacific appear most advanced in their understanding of this reality while those in the Middle East appear “comparatively behind.”

PwC’s survey of global CEOs is among the world’s most thorough, including the perspective of 1581 CEOs in 83 territories.

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