Navigating the rising tide of uncertainty

23rd Annual Global CEO Survey

What a difference two years can make. In 2018, PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey revealed a record level of optimism regarding worldwide economic growth. This year, as CEOs look ahead to 2020, we see a record level of pessimism. For the first time, more than half of the CEOs we surveyed believe the rate of global GDP growth will decline. This caution has translated into CEOs’ low confidence in their own organisation’s outlook. Only 27% of CEOs are ‘very confident’ in their prospects for revenue growth in 2020, a low level not seen since 2009.

What is clouding the view from the top? In a word, uncertainty. Conducted in September and October of 2019 (before the global outbreak of COVID-19), PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey, which involved 1,581 chief executives in 83 territories, explores the sources and manifestations of uncertainty and how CEOs are taking action to address it.

Explore key findings
Robert E. Moritz, Chairman of the PwC Network, previews the firm’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey

CEOs’ prospects for growth in 2020

Bob Moritz, Chairman of the PwC Network, previews the firm’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey with a focus on rising chief executive pessimism and uncertainty heading into 2020.

Duration: 00:01:35

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Explore this year’s story by clicking through the key findings tabs

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For the first time, more than half (53%)
of CEOs believe the rate of global economic growth will decline

Do you believe global economic growth will improve, stay the same or decline over the next 12 months?

The share of CEOs very confident in their 12-month growth prospects fell to 27%, the lowest level since 2009

How confident are you about your organisation’s prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months (showing only ‘very confident’)

Contributing to the decline in CEO confidence is uncertainty around regulation, trade and economic growth

How concerned are you, if at all, about each of these potential threats to your organisation’s growth prospects? (showing only ‘extremely concerned’)

CEOs are divided over whether government legislation will splinter the internet

Thinking about the future (2022 and beyond), please select the statement that you believe is more likely to occur. The internet (including social media) will increasingly become:

Only 18% of organisations globally cite significant progress in establishing an upskilling programme

How much progress has your organisation made in establishing an upskilling programme that develops a mix of soft, technical and digital skills?

CEOs globally recognise greater opportunities today from climate change initiatives compared to ten years ago

How strongly do you agree or disagree that: ‘climate change initiatives will lead to significant new product and service opportunities for my organisation’? (showing only ‘strongly agree’)

Explore our trends series

We’ve combined the insights from more than 3,500 CEO interviews with expert analysis to produce a series of reports across industries and critical topic areas. Explore our industry themes to learn about crucial trends and strategic options.

Ilona Steffen

Ilona Steffen

Global Marketing & Insights Director, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 79 210 6692


Mike Davies

Mike Davies

Director, Global Communications, PwC UK

Tel: +44 7803 974136


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