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PwC Bermuda boss: Disruptive change coming

PwC Bermuda head Arthur Wightman

Global markets will face a major shake-up this year, a professional services firm chief said yesterday.

Arthur Wightman, head of the Bermuda office of PwC, said changes in technology and the need to compete in new markets would change the face of business.

Mr Wightman added: “It’s clear that in 2015 disruptive change will affect all global markets — something that we can expect to see in Bermuda.”

He was speaking as PwC released the results of a global survey of CEOs — which showed they are less optimistic about the world economy than last year.

Mr Wightman said: “For example, the rapid pace of technological change is seen as a challenge by 58 per cent of CEOs.

“And while many CEOs seek to harness the potential of digital for their organisations, challenges are being thrown up by competitors emerging from new and previously unseen sources.”

Mr Wightman said the survey showed that one third of CEOs said they had entered new industries in the last three years — and 56 per cent believed that trend would continue over the next three years.

He added: “The ways by which CEOs are reacting to megatrends are ultimately changing the markets where CEOs seek growth, the range of threats to business and the very fundamentals of entire industries.”

The review 0f 1,300 CEOs worldwide showed that — although company chiefs were gloomy about the economic outlook — the belief that their own companies would grow remained stable.

A total of 37 per cent of top bosses thought the global economy would improve — down from 44 per cent last year.

And 17 per cent — more than double last year’s figure — predicted that the world economy would decline.

But 44 per cent of CEOs said they were confident that economic conditions would remain stable.

The survey also found that the US — for the first time in five years — overtook China as the key market for business expansion.

And concerns about over-regulation topped CEOs’ list of concerns, with 78 per cent expressing worry — six points up on last year and the highest level ever seen in the survey.

The survey results were released at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF), held each year in Davos, Switzerland.

The report found that 38 per cent of CEOs saw the US — Bermuda’s biggest trading partner — as one of their top three areas for expansion in 2015.

But 34 per cent continued to back China for expansion, with 19 per cent going for Germany, 11 per cent for the UK and ten per cent for Brazil.

A total of 71 per cent of CEOs said they would cut costs over the next year to help strengthen their companies, while more than half looked to strategic alliances or joint ventures.

More than 30 per cent said they would outsource departments in the coming year, with 29 per cent — up six per cent on 2014 — said they would look at mergers and acquisitions to maintain their position.

PwC International chairman Dennis Nally said: “While some mature markets like the US appear to be rebounding, others like the Eurozone continue to struggle.

“And while some emerging economies continue to expand, others are slowing.

“Finding the right strategic balance to sustain growth in this changing marketplace remains a challenge.”