Australian CEOs Are More Optimistic Than Their International Counterparts

ack Bobridge of team UniSA celebrates after winning Stage 1 of the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide. Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

Australia’s CEOs are more optimistic about business growth than their counterparts in other countries and plan to start adding more staff over the next year.

According to a PwC survey, 43% of Australian CEOs are very confident of growth in the next 12 months, up 9 percentage points from last year, compared with 39% of CEOs globally.

In the longer term, 55% are very confident of growth in the next three years, up 21 percentage points from the year before.

However, 60% of Australian chief executives believe there are more threats to growth today than three years ago, citing over-regulation, the handling of Australia’s debt burden and cyber security risks among their top concerns.

More than half (55%) the Australian CEOs expect to add to their headcount in the next 12 months. Only 12% plan to cut the size of their work force compared to 21% of their global peers.

PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey talked to 46 Australian company CEOs, including Qantas boss Alan Joyce, BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie and Woolworths head Grant O’Brien.

Other findings of the survey:

  • 76% of Australian CEOs cited geopolitical uncertainty as one of the top economic and policy threats to growth.
  • 74% of Australia’s CEOs thought a priority of government should be to ensure an internationally competitive and efficient tax system, with 69% believing the government has been ineffective in achieving this.
  • Australian CEOs are the most concerned about over-regulation (95% very concerned) compared to their global peers at 78%.

Digital innovation and its impact on customer behaviour is a particular concern with nine out of 10 CEOs in Australia saying it is the number one disruptive trend.

“Many companies today are becoming more and more like tech businesses, particularly when you consider how they interact with their customers and deliver goods and services,” says PwC Australia CEO Luke Sayers.

“Australian CEOs have switched onto the fact that they don’t need a digital strategy, they need a business strategy that’s fit for the digital age.”

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