Business leaders enter 2013 with renewed confidence, finds research

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
[PHOTO: 401(K) 2012/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0] 
Davos: Global business leaders have entered the New Year feeling surprisingly confident about future growth prospects, according to the latest research from a global business advisory firm – FTI Consulting.

In a poll of more than 1,000 business leaders in major global economies, FTI Consulting found that 77% of respondents are optimistic about significant global economic growth in 2013. This compares with 45% optimism expressed in a similar poll conducted in January 2012. The optimism is fairly evenly spread across the regions: 76% in Europe, 78% in North America and 75% in Asia.  

With business leaders feeling more secure about global economic prospects for 2013, executives are anticipating some growth for their own businesses. 62% of respondents to the poll expect increasing growth and prosperity for their own organisations: 48% in Europe, 71% in North America and 61% in Asia. Furthermore, 61% expect growth of over 2% in the coming year, while 10% are expecting growth of 10% or more.

The research also found there still is appetite for acquisitions, with 42% of respondents saying they will make an acquisition in their own region and 37% outside their own region. Innovation will be a key theme for 2013, with 57% of respondents planning to invest in innovation to combat low growth in 2013. The focus on innovation is most pronounced in Europe: 61% compared with 53% in North America and 49% in Asia. 

The general feeling that the economy has started to turn the corner is further demonstrated by a surprisingly positive attitude towards the banking sector. 89% of global business leaders believe the banking sector in their home country has a positive reputation, and 85% feel the banking sector globally is in a good state. Nearly five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, 70% of respondents are confident there is a strong enough global regulatory framework in place to prevent the risk of another banking crisis.

When asked about threats to growth, 58% of respondents remain concerned about ongoing problems in the Eurozone, with a further 49% concerned about the negative trickle-down effect from the ongoing fiscal problems in the United States, 48% concerned about the ongoing credit crisis and 43% concerned about slowing growth in China. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) appear to provide some salvation to these risks and threats, with 58% of global business leaders polled believing the biggest opportunities in 2013 are in these countries.

"Having spent the past five years grappling with the global banking crisis, the Eurozone crisis and recession, businesses appear to be ready to move forward," said Mark Malloch-Brown, EMEA Chairman at FTI Consulting.

He added, "While there still is concern about ongoing problems in the Eurozone and the trickle-down effect from the inevitable spending cuts in the United States, we are anticipating a lighter mood at Davos this year compared with 2012, when we were facing a possible Armageddon following a collapse in the Eurozone. Businesses seem to have the measure of potential threats, are looking to exploit opportunities in emerging markets and feel positively about the new leadership in China."
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