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Global business leaders threatened by cyber-risk

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Arthur Wightman, PwC Bermuda leader (Photograph supplied)
Cyber-risk is worrying Caribbean business leaders more than the pandemic (Photograph supplied)

Caribbean business leaders see cyber-risk as their top threat, according to PwC’s newly released Global CEO Survey.

The survey polling 5,050 chief executive officers, worldwide, across January and February 2021, found that cyber has fast become a major source of anxiety for CEOs.

Among Caribbean CEOs, 67 per cent said it was their top concern, followed by pandemics and health crises. Globally, it was the second greatest concern for business leaders.

“Rising digitisation is increasing the risks posed by cyberthreats,” said a spokesman for PwC. “This, coupled with the significant increase in cybersecurity incidents in 2020, including ransomware attacks, has resulted in cyberthreats leaping up the list to become the number two concern, cited by 47 per cent of CEOs globally, compared to 33 per cent in 2020.”

Asked about their spending on digital transformation, nearly half of CEOs reported project increases of 10 per cent or more.

“Despite the rising level of concern CEOs are voicing about cyberattacks, this has not translated into definitive actions,” the spokesman said. “Less than half of the CEOs planning for heightened digital investment are also planning to boost their spending on cybersecurity and data privacy by 10 per cent or more.”

At the same time, a growing number of CEOs – 36 per cent globally compared to 55 per cent in the Caribbean region – plan to use automation and technology to make their workforce more competitive, more than double the share of CEOs who said the same in 2016.

CEOs were also increasingly concerned about the spread of misinformation, 28 per cent up from 16 per cent, last year.

In 2020 tax policy uncertainty ranked outside the top ten concerns for CEOs, with only 19 per cent of CEOs worried. This year, it has increased rapidly in importance, leaping up to seventh place, 31 per cent globally.

The survey attributed this to CEOs watching government debts accumulate and realising that business taxes will likely need to rise.

But one year after the Covid-19 pandemic began, CEOs were voicing record levels of optimism in the global economic recovery, with 76 per cent of business leaders predicting that economic growth will improve in 2021.

The number was a little lower for Caribbean region CEOs, with 69 per cent saying they believed global economic growth will improve.

“After a period of human tragedy and profound disruption, it’s encouraging to see that CEO confidence is up, boosted by the roll-out of vaccines in many parts of the world, including here in Bermuda,” Arthur Wightman, PwC Bermuda leader said. 
“The details of that recovery aren't yet clear. However, it's certain that we will not return to the way things were.

“CEOs will need to develop a different mindset and consider and take action 
builds trust and delivers sustained outcomes. 
This includes the heightened focus on sustainability, social inclusion and other environmental, social and governance opportunities. It’s vital that businesses meet these expectations if they are to build and sustain consumer trust. The organisations that rise to these challenges will emerge stronger, more resilient and able to steer successfully through this period of momentous change.”

In the survey, CEOs also revealed that 36 per cent of them were feeling “very confident” about their organisation’s prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months, up from 27 per cent of CEOs in 2020.

For in-depth interviews with world CEOs see www.strategy-business.com/inside-the-mind-of-the-ceo or see www.pwc.com/bermuda

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Published March 12, 2021 at 12:58 pm (Updated March 12, 2021 at 12:58 pm)

Global business leaders threatened by cyber-risk

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