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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

UK CEOs more upbeat about growth prospects than 12 months ago

It has been found that 89% of UK CEOs are confident about their company’s growth prospects this year, up four percentage points from last year and above the 85% global figure according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

CEOs "resilient and realistic about the challenges ahead" ©iStock
CEOs "resilient and realistic about the challenges ahead" ©iStock

The findings from their 20th annual CEO Survey, published at the World Economic Forum in Davos, also show that 41% of UK business chiefs describe themselves as ‘very confident’ about growth in 2017, 8% more than 12 months ago.

Their optimism is not just surrounding short-term prospects either, with 95% of respondents confident about their business’s growth over the next three years, compared to 91% globally and 83% in Germany.

PwC chairman and senior partner, Kevin Ellis, said: “Despite an eventful 2016, it’s encouraging to see growth firmly on the agenda of UK plc.

“We may face a period of uncertainty, but the economic fundamentals remain positive and businesses should keep calm and carry on doing what they do best – capitalising on the UK’s strengths and attractiveness to the rest of the world, and seeking out new opportunities.”

The annual survey of more than 1,300 global leaders, including 126 UK CEOs, showed that the UK is rising in popularity with overseas companies, with leaders based in 16 different countries seeing Britain as more important than last year for their short-term growth.

Overall, the UK is seen as the fourth most important country for growth, behind the US, China and Germany, while London, alongside Shanghai, New York and Beijing, is identified by CEOs as one of the four most important cities for their organisation’s growth prospects.

“UK CEOs are resilient and realistic about the challenges ahead – maintaining a positive mindset and staying focused on what they can control is vital,” Ellis said.

Strengthening digital and technological capabilities as a way to capitalise on new growth opportunities was found to be important to 25% of UK business leaders, in comparison to 15% of their global peers. 

In addition, 83% of UK business chiefs rate digital skills highly in comparison to 79% of respondents worldwide, with UK CEOs less concerned about the pace of technological change than their global counterparts, suggesting they now see digital disruption as business as usual.

“In the tech-talent race, UK organisations must be viewed as leading the way in emerging technology development. It is vital that we are able to attract businesses and people with the right tech skills, and also develop the requisite skills internally," Ellis continued.

“With the current pace of technological change it is hard to predict what jobs will look like in the future, so as well as developing digital skills it is important that employees are adaptive and able to respond to the next skills challenge.”