CEO optimism hits record high: Survey

'Combination of stable economy, trading opportunities make for strong business outlook'
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 02/15/2018
Economic outlook, economy
A bird flies past the logo of Price Waterhouse installed on the facade of its office in Mumbai, India, on Jan. 11. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Eighty-eight per cent of Canadian CEOs are optimistic about their company's prospects for revenue growth and 72 per cent believe global economic growth will improve over the next 12 months, according to a survey by PwC.

The United States is still considered a top choice for growth by 88 per cent of Canadian CEOs (despite NAFTA uncertainties) followed by China (53 per cent), United Kingdom (30 per cent), and Germany (19 per cent).

"The combination of a stable economy and trading opportunities with the U.S., Europe, and Asia — especially in light of the newly negotiated Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) — make for a strong business outlook," said Bill McFarland, CEO and chief inclusion officer at PwC Canada.

"There's great optimism and momentum within the Canadian business environment with exciting opportunities ahead. Many Canadian CEOs are looking to create partnerships and alliances at home and abroad for future growth."

The key threats to growth include geopolitical uncertainty (88 per cent), protectionism (84 per cent) and cyber threats (81 per cent).

Technology and talent
The world is changing rapidly and 67 per cent of Canadian CEOs (versus 64 per cent globally) believe that core technologies such as AI, robotics, and blockchain will disrupt their business models. However, fewer than one in three CEOs (versus 47 per cent globally) say they understand how these technologies can improve their customer experience and create competitive advantage. 

Canadian CEOs also expressed concerns around the availability of digital skills within their own industries and among their senior leadership teams, found the survey of 1,293 global CEOs, including 43 in Canada. On digital skills specifically, 65 per cent of CEOs are concerned about the availability of digital skills in their workforces and 60 per cent felt there is a shortage of such skills in the Canadian labour market. 

"There's a great opportunity for stronger collaboration among businesses, government, industry, innovation hubs and academia to close the digital talent deficit in Canada and retrain displaced workers," saidMcFarland.

Trust issues
Only 33 per cent of Canadian CEOs are concerned about a lack of trust in business compared to 60 per cent globally. A majority of Canadian CEOs are taking positive steps to build trust by: focusing on their organizational values to be purpose-led and values driven; promoting diversity and inclusion; and investing in cybersecurity and data protection to build trust with employees and customers. But there is more to do to build trust with all stakeholders and develop measures of success which are connected to broader societal outcomes, said PwC.

Click here to access the full Canadian results of PwC's CEO Survey.

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