CEOs Expect Another Tough Year
Growth prospects for 2013 have fallen among 1,330 CEOs surveyed by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Continuing uncertainty about global economic growth weighed on the minds of 81% of the CEOs included in the survey. Other concerns include government responses to fiscal deficit (71%), over-regulation (69%), and lack of stability in capital markets (61%).
Major threats to business growth, according to the CEOs, are an increasing tax burden (62%), availability of key skills (58%), and the cost of energy and raw materials (52%).
The top investment priority is improving operational effectiveness, where 77% of CEOs have followed some kind of cost reduction program in the past 12 months, with 70% planning to do so in the next 12 months.
Interestingly, 48% have increased headcount in the past year, while 25% have kept headcount the same. Only 45% of CEOs plan to increase headcount in 2013, down from 51% in 2012. Some 23% plan to reduce headcount.
Along with better operational effectiveness and more targeted investment, CEOs expect their companies to become more customer-centric. Nearly half of CEOs see shifts in customer buying patterns as a serious threat in 2013 and 51% said their focus for the next 12 months would be growing their customer base. The survey indicated that 82% of CEOs expect to make changes to their customer growth and retention strategies during the year. Nearly a third expect to make major changes in these strategies.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers survey results are available here.
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