Swiss CEOs show confidence | KPMG | CH

Swiss CEOs show confidence

Swiss CEOs show confidence

Swiss CEOs are optimistic about the future: In the next three years, they expect to see substantial corporate growth and are confident in their ability to successfully overcome strategic challenges. A clear majority is even planning to increase their headcount over the medium term and is not worried about experiencing any material shortage of skilled workers. These are some of the findings revealed by KPMG’s latest CEO Outlook Survey.


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Swiss CEOs are confident that they will be able to successfully overcome the strategic challenges facing their companies. Most anticipate that the next three years will bring substantial corporate growth as well as noticeably larger headcounts.

These are some of the findings of a global, cross-sector survey of over 1,300 CEOs conducted by KPMG in 25 countries. During this survey, 50 business leaders in Switzerland, too, were asked about their medium-term growth prospects and transaction plans, how they foster innovation, their approach to both digitalization and risks as well as human resources management. The survey was conducted before the UK's Brexit referendum took place. KPMG still considers the findings to be valid, however.

Optimistic growth prospects and a focus on Africa

Swiss CEOs are more optimistic about their own corporate growth, global economic growth as well as growth within their own country over the next three years than CEOs in other countries. Local companies are also planning on expanding their headcounts to a greater degree than companies abroad. The biggest drivers of growth are new technologies and the new competitors these enable (the “Uber” principle), the availability of qualified professionals and geopolitical factors.

None of the industries in Switzerland expressed any concerns regarding significant shortages of skilled workers. If skill gaps open up or skilled specialists are lacking, they will be hired away from competitors (26%), obtained through insourcing (26%), or generated through internal training (24%). Swiss business leaders are not concerned about any negative consequences that automation might have on their workforces in key functional areas such as finance, marketing, sales, R&D or production.

CEOs from around the globe see the greatest potential for growth in the new markets in India (28%), China (26%) and the USA (24%). It should be emphasized that, compared to CEOs in other countries, Swiss CEOs attributed much greater medium-term growth potential to Africa. On the other hand, compared to their global counterparts, Swiss CEOs were more critical of the medium-term growth prospects in Central and Eastern Europe, Japan and the USA.

While local CEOs are most concerned about risks arising from third parties (32%), technologies (32%) and supply chains (28%), foreign companies feel that the greatest threats are posed by cyber risks (30%), regulation (28%) and technology (26%). Respondents in Switzerland also considered their companies better prepared against cyber risks than those abroad: Nearly half of CEOs in Switzerland (42%) consider their own companies to be fully prepared for potential cyber events whereas this response was only given by around a quarter of companies abroad (26%).

Different corporate approaches toward fostering innovation

Switzerland differs greatly from other countries in terms of how innovation is fostered within companies: In Switzerland, innovation is an integral component of the corporate strategy and is preferably achieved through collaboration with start-ups and universities. For foreign CEOs, on the other hand, innovations are the result of a corporate culture that incorporates formal corporate processes, a greater willingness to take risks, collaboration with third parties and input from top management.

The top 5 priorities for Swiss CEOs

1. Greater speed-to-market (22%)

2. Improving the relevance of our reporting to investors (22%)

3. Stronger client focus (or to better meet customer needs) (20%)

4. Implementing disruptive technology (e.g. “Uber”) (18%)

5. Diversity/inclusion (18%)

The 5 most pressing concerns of Swiss CEOs

1. About the impact of global economic forces on our business (100%)

2. That regulations will inhibit our growth (96%)

3. About whether our organization is keeping current with new technologies (94%)

4. About the relevance of our products/ services 3 years from now (94%)

5. About our competitors’ ability to take business away from our organization (94%)

KPMG CEO Outlook (methodology)

KPMG conducted a survey in 25 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Philippines, Rwanda, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam) during which more than 1,300 CEOs (50 of which from Switzerland) from different industries (automotive, banking, insurance, investment management, construction, life sciences, industry, technology, telecommunications, retailing, consumer goods, energy and raw materials) were asked questions about key strategic topics (growth, investments, strategy, M&A, transformation, data & analytics, risks as well as corporate culture and employees). The businesses surveyed generated annual revenues in excess of USD 500 million.

© 2018 KPMG Holding AG is a member of the KPMG network of independent firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss legal entity. All rights reserved.

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