Private company view: Undaunted, but underprepared?

20th CEO Survey

We’re living through unprecedented change: digitisation; globalisation; urbanisation and climate change. The world of this year’s 20th CEO Survey is unrecognisable from the world of 1997, when the survey was published for the first time. Globalisation has brought some clear benefits – both social and economic - but there are now serious questions about how evenly those benefits are being shared. And in every market, businesses face new risks and new opportunities.

Private companies are a vital part of these economies, and many have histories going back generations, not just years. So how do their CEOs see the world of 2017?  And how confident are they about the future?

The key issues


In such an unpredictable political and economic environment it’s no surprise that private company CEOs are wary of the immediate prospects for the global economy. But they are far more confident about the prospects for their own businesses, and for the first time in five years, private companies are more positive than public firms. How do they plan on achieving growth in these uncertain times?

Find out


Technology is the biggest single opportunity - and risk - many businesses now face. The opportunity? To completely transform how they operate, what they sell, and how they communicate. And the risk? Not just the real financial and reputational cost of data breaches, but the risk of being left behind. New apps and cloud-based computing mean the investment required for technology is no longer a barrier for smaller and private companies. But are they giving this issue the urgent attention it needs?

Find out


Talent and technology are converging as an increasing number of basic tasks are being taken on by machines. As a result, companies are focusing more and more on recruiting people with the ‘human touch’ - people with qualities like problem-solving, leadership, creativity, and emotional intelligence. Any company can struggle to find and keep the best, but it can be even harder for private companies. We offer some top tips on being an employer of choice in a digital age.

Find out


One of our private company CEO respondents called trust the ‘most important thing a company has’. And he’s not wrong. When the CEO survey was first published, trust wasn’t a subject high on the list; this year, nearly 60% of CEOs see an erosion of public trust in the corporate sector as a serious threat to growth. Technology is part of the problem here, but can also be part of the answer for example, offering companies the chance to create competitive advantage from high standards of data security.

Find out
Thomas von Koch, Managing Partner of EQT, Sweden, discusses his thoughts on the rapid pace of change and how businesses need to change to adapt and grow.

“The business landscape is ever changing, and now, changing faster than ever. We need to move away from an organisational mind-set of long-range plans to one that is agile, quick to adapt to changing market needs. You can't do that if you don't completely refresh how you work culturally and what software tools you use. I sincerely believe that IT infrastructure and digitalisation will be an instrumental part of our business going forward. The companies who are most flexible, agile and adaptable will be the winners because the world will change even more going forwards.”


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Contact us

Peter Englisch
Global Family Business Leader, PwC Germany
Tel: +492014381812

David Wills
Global Leader - Entrepreneurial & Private Business, PwC Australia
Tel: +61 3 8603 3183

Ahpy Bokpe
Project manager, Global Entrepreneurial & Private Business, PwC UK
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7804 6253

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