What do CEOs worry about?

What do CEOs worry about?

In the latest CEO Survey by PwC, the role of reputation management is becoming ever-more important as more than half of UK CEOs (56%) believe that falling trust in business among customers, business partners and other stakeholders is a threat to their organisation.

And as businesses move more of their processes and interactions online, CEOs are also paying greater attention to risks such as data loss and cyber attacks with 80% expressing concern about risks of cyber threats to their business and the role these threats play in undermining trust.

UK CEOs – the key risks

80%concerned about the risks of cyber threats to their business
79%see a lack of availability of key skills as a key threat to their business
75%concerned about the speed of technological change
75%believe their upskilling programmes are effective in supporting innovation and accelerated digital transformation
56%say a lack of trust in business poses a threat
57%say growing concern over data privacy is shaping their approach to cyber security
30% cite cyber security as the most important technology for business and government to collaborate on to build

UK CEOs, however, say the biggest threat to their business remains economic uncertainty – 88% are concerned compared to 81% globally.

In response, they are implementing practical measures, such as increasing efficiency and launching new products and services in order to keep growing.

According to PwC’s 23rd CEO Survey, UK bosses are responding to this threat in a number of ways, with 79% planning operational efficiencies compared with 72% a year earlier.

This plan to reduce costs, however, is counter-balanced by a more entrepreneurial approach to the challenging conditions with 65% planning to launch new products and services and 42% moving ahead with exploring new markets.

There is also a clear focus on culture with more purposeful measures which will help organisations appeal to talent and customers, and protect them better from reputational issues.

UK CEOsIssueComparison
88%Concerned about economic growth81% CEOs globally
64%Anticipate a global economic decline this year53% CEOs globally
79%Planning to implement operational efficiencies72% a year earlier
25%Expect their headcount to decline over coming 12 months16% a year earlier

65% plan to launch a new product or service

42% say they are exploring a new market

32% say they are looking at mergers and acquisitions

    There is also a strong appetite for mergers and acquisitions in the UK with a third of UK CEOs looking to access the investment liquidity that exists in global capital markets and private equity.

    The methodology

    PwC interviewed 1,581 CEOs in 83 countries during September and October 2019, including 126 CEOs in the UK.