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CEOs more optimistic about global economic growth, but Brexit concerns weigh

Over the next three years, 91 per cent of UK CEOs expect their company’s revenues to grow.

The number of UK company bosses who expect the global economy to improve over the coming year has more than doubled compared to last year, a survey by professional services firm PwC has revealed.

The poll of 193 UK chief executives, shows that 36 per cent believe global economic growth will get better this year, compared to just 17 per cent who thought so a year ago.

A total of 88 per cent said they are optimistic about their own organisation’s growth prospects for the next 12 months, which is broadly in line with last year’s figure.

Nonetheless, the number of UK business leaders who described themselves as “very confident” has edged lower – to 34 per cent from 41 per cent last year. PwC said that this could be the result of Brexit negotiations only recently reaching a “significant milestone”.

Over a longer horizon, optimism is even more solid. Over the next three years, 91 per cent of UK CEOs expect their revenues to grow, which is even higher than the 91 per cent of the 1,293 global CEOs questioned who think so.

PwC said that might also be driven by Brexit, and “reflect comfort in the prospect of a two-year Brexit transition period, despite uncertainty over the outcome of trade negotiations”.

“Robust confidence levels among UK CEOs points to resilience in uncertain times,” said Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner of PwC. “Brexit uncertainty, regulation, availability of skills and cyber are key concerns but business leaders remain confident they can navigate through them,” he said.

Nonetheless, Brexit does appear to be bruising some elements of UK corporate confidence.

The survey showed that the number of UK business leaders expecting to increase headcount has fallen to 54 per cent from 63 per cent last year. Some 15 per cent even expect to reduce headcount, compared to 10 per cent who anticipated having to cull jobs at this point last year.

Geopolitical uncertainty is considered the biggest economic or policy threat by both UK and global CEOs, followed by over-regulation. Twelve months ago UK business chiefs considered uncertain economic growth and exchange rate volatility to be their top two concerns.

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