PwC Australia’s 24th CEO Survey

Building resilience: from reactive to proactive

Innowell

The 2021 economic outlook is optimistic. In PwC Australia’s 24th CEO Survey, 70% of Australia’s CEOs say they anticipate global economic growth will improve, a record increase from 11%. Increasing confidence means global and local CEOs can overcome business challenges and look to new opportunities ahead - it's time to move from reactive to proactive mode.

Now is the time for business leaders to seize the initiative and prepare the ground for economic growth. It’s encouraging that there has been a surge in local CEOs looking to mergers and acquisitions as a path to business growth (63% in 2021, up from 34% last year) but they must be bold in other ways too.

  • 70%

    of local CEOs anticipate global economic growth in 2021

  • 95%

    the number of local CEOs who see cyber as a threat to business growth

  • 70%

    of local CEOs see climate change and environmental damage as a threat to business growth

  • 71%

    the number of local CEOs optimistic about increasing headcount over the next three years

Building resilience: from reactive to proactive provides the actions business leaders should take in 2021 to explore what can be done differently to overcome organisational challenges and protect against ongoing disruptions.  
 

Explore the 5 key themes from our 24th CEO Survey
Growth
70% of local CEOs are optimistic about global economic growth
Workforce
71% of local CEOs are optimistic about increasing headcount over the next three years
Technology
95% of local CEOs cite cyber as a threat to business growth
Climate Change
62% of local CEOs plan to change their long-term investments in sustainability and ESG initiatives over the next three years, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis
Risk and COVID-19
27% of local CEOs are preparing for systemic risk and low-probability, high-impact events to a large extent

70% of local CEOs are optimistic about global economic growth

The path forward is optimistic with most of Australia’s CEOs expecting global growth to improve in 2021. And while local CEOs cite over-regulation, tax issues and trade conflicts as threats to growth; they may be underestimating the potential impact of supply chain volatility and slow population growth. It’s encouraging that many local CEOs have signalled their intent to pursue mergers and acquisitions, but business leaders must be bold in other ways too.

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95% of Australia’s CEOs cite cyber as a threat to business growth

Digital transformation efforts have accelerated as organisations adapt to a ‘COVID-normal’ world. The unpredictability of current events has highlighted vulnerability and the need for a focus on cyber resilience. Although more CEOs are considering cybersecurity in their business decisions, organisations still have much to do to overcome challenges; including a greater investment in their people to ensure they have the skills they need.

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71% of Australia’s CEOs are optimistic about increasing headcount over the next three years

The majority of Australia’s CEOs feel confident enough to hire more staff in the next three years, but many aren’t prioritising strategic solutions to skills shortages or investment into upskilling. Organisations who actively engage their workforce and form a long-term plan that meets their changing needs will be the ones to reap the rewards.

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62% of local CEOs plan to change their long-term investments in sustainability and ESG initiatives over the next three years, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis

An increasing number of Australia’s CEOs see climate change as a serious threat to their organisation’s growth prospects and are factoring this into their strategic risk management activities. However, compared with their global peers, local CEOs don’t think they should do more to measure their environmental impact. Without sufficient transparency and accountability, Australian companies will likely be at a disadvantage when competing for investment on the global stage.

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27% of local CEOs are preparing for systemic risk and low-probability, high-impact events to a large extent

Australia’s CEOs appear less focused on risk management than their overseas counterparts. To date, Australia has escaped many of the pandemic’s worst hardships and this may explain why risk appears lower on the agenda. Risk management strategies need to be revisited and re-engineered so that CEOs can make more informed and reliable decisions in the pursuit of business and economic growth, and achieving their strategic objectives.

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Contact us

Sean Gregory

Sean Gregory

Chief Strategy, Risk and Reputation Officer, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 2253

Jeremy Thorpe

Jeremy Thorpe

Chief Economist & Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (2) 8266 4611

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