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PwC: Bermuda can share CEOs’ optimism

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Bermuda has reason to share the optimism of business leaders around the world and focus on the opportunities that global economic growth is bringing.

That is the view of Arthur Wightman, PwC Bermuda leader, who was speaking after PwC's global survey of nearly 1,300 CEOs showed record-breaking levels of optimism about the economic environment.

“CEOs are optimistic because there are tangible signals in the global economy that opportunity abounds,” Mr Wightman said.

“Most of the world's major economies are experiencing positive growth in contrast to the case just a few years ago. International and local business leaders, the Government and the people of Bermuda should also feel optimistic.

“There is much to be excited about and if we can choose to focus on the opportunities in front of us and rise to meet our own high expectations, we can transform our organisations to deliver strong business results in the new environment of fast-shifting customer expectations, and technological and regulatory disruption.”

The survey, released today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, showed that 57 per cent of business leaders say they believe global economic growth will improve in the next 12 months.

That's almost twice the level of last year (29 per cent) and the largest increase since professional-services firm PwC began asking about global growth in 2012.

However, job security in an age of digital and automation transformation emerges as an issue — most notably for those working in financial services, Bermuda's dominant industry.

The survey found 24 per cent of banking, capital markets and insurance CEOs plan workforce reductions, with 28 per cent of banking and capital markets jobs likely to be lost to a large extent because of technology and automation.

Mr Wightman said: “Governments, communities, and businesses need to truly partner to match talent with opportunity, and that means new approaches to educating students and training workers in the fields that will matter in a technology-enabled job market.

“It also means encouraging and creating opportunities for the workforce to retrain and learn new skills throughout their careers.”

The broader picture was brighter on the jobs front with only 18 per cent of CEOs expecting to reduce their headcount.

Healthcare (71 per cent), technology (70 per cent), business services (67 per cent), communications (60 per cent) and hospitality and leisure (59 per cent) are among the sectors with the highest demand for new recruits.

CEOs say that helping employees retrain, and increasing transparency on how automation and AI could impact jobs is becoming a more important issue for them.

Two thirds of CEOs believe they have a responsibility to retrain employees whose roles are replaced by technology, chiefly among the engineering and construction (73 per cent), Technology (71 per cent) and communications (77 per cent) sectors.

In the US, CEOs' confidence has recovered. After election nerves last year, the early focus on regulation and tax reform by the new administration has seen confidence in business growth prospects for the year ahead rising significantly — from 39 per cent in 2017 to 52 per cent in 2018. And North America is the only region where a majority of CEOs are “very confident” about their own 12-month prospects.

Despite the optimism in the global economy, anxiety is rising on a much broader range of business, social and economic threats. CEOs are “extremely concerned” about geopolitical uncertainty (40 per cent), cyber threats (40 per cent), terrorism (41 per cent), availability of key skills (38 per cent) and populism (35 per cent). These threats outpace familiar concerns about business growth prospects such as exchange rate volatility (29 per cent) and changing consumer behaviour (26 per cent).

PwC conducted 1,293 interviews with CEOs in 85 countries between August and November 2017. Their sample was weighted by national GDP to ensure that CEOs' views are fairly represented across all major countries.

Record high: CEOs' confidence in continuing economic growth has gained strongly (Source: PwC)
America first: North American CEOs are more confident in the future than business leaders in any other region (Source: PwC)

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Published January 24, 2018 at 3:13 pm (Updated January 24, 2018 at 11:19 pm)

PwC: Bermuda can share CEOs’ optimism

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