PwC's 24th Annual Global CEO Survey


PwC's 24th Annual Global CEO Survey

One year ago, on 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, marking the official start of a period of profound disruption. Today, we find ourselves still in its grip, but vaccines developed at a record-breaking pace are making it possible to envision recovery. The details of that recovery aren't yet clear. However, it's certain that we will not return to the way things were. The pandemic has laid bare fundamental deficiencies in our global systems and business operating models, but it also has unleashed energy and creativity as leaders seek solutions to these problems.

Against this backdrop, in January and February, we collected insights from 5,050 chief executives from around the world as part of PwC’s  24th Annual Global CEO Survey . The ensuing report outlines a leadership agenda that takes on tomorrow by providing unique insights—including expectations for growth, emerging threats and investment strategies—that will help company leaders envision and enable a more sustainable future.

Key highlights include: 

  • An improved outlook: CEOs report record-high optimism about the global economy, with 76% believing growth will improve in 2021. And CEOs’ optimism extends to their own company’s performance: Globally, 36% say they are very confident about their organisation’s prospects for revenue growth over the next year. This is a reversion to the long-term mean—and a significant rebound from our 2020 survey, which was completed well before the pandemic began. 
  • Danger lurking online: Cyber moved up the threat list, and is now the second highest concern among CEOs—topped only by their anxiety about pandemics. It was selected as an extreme concern by 47% of CEOs, compared with 33% in 2020. Also of greater concern is misinformation (28%, up from 16% in 2020). The rise of these two threats coincides with nearly half of CEOs’ plans to increase investments in digital transformation by 10% or more. 
  • The climate change challenge: Last year, 24% of CEOs selected climate change as an extreme concern; this year, it was selected by 30%. This may seem like a notable jump, but in the context of rising anxiety about nearly all threats, it represents just a marginal increase. What’s more, 27% of CEOs report not being concerned about climate change; and 60% of CEOs have not factored it into their risk management plans. 

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