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Navigating the rising tide of uncertainty

23rd Annual Global CEO Survey

Belgian CEOs more gloomy about economic outlook

Like their global counterparts, the majority of Belgian CEOs (63%) predict a decline in global economic growth. In Belgium, this represents a huge 18% decrease on last year and shows a real decline in confidence. CEOs' confidence in their own organisation's short-term prospects is also more muted, with only 63% expressing confidence in their company's prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months, a significant decrease compared to last year (76%), and lower than CEOs globally (72%).

Although, their medium-term vision remains more or less unchanged: 81% are optimistic about their prospects for revenue growth in the next three years, compared to 85% globally.

Top five economic, policy, social and environmental threats to your organisation's growth prospects

 2019   2018
1 Over-regulation 37%   1 Over-regulation 43%
2 Trade Conflicts 34%          2 Protectionism 31%
3 Policy uncertainty 34%    3 Policy uncertainty 26%
4 Uncertain economic growth 32%   4 Future of the Eurozone 21%
5 Climate change 27%   5 Increasing tax burden 21%

% Respondents who stated being 'Extremely Concerned'



Top five business threats to your organisation's growth prospects

% Respondents who stated being 'Extremely Concerned'

Top concerns for Belgian CEOs

As in last year’s results, over-regulation (37%) and policy uncertainty (34%) make the top three of CEO’s concerns regarding economic, policy, social and environmental threats to their organisation's growth prospects. Striking, however, is that they list trade disputes (34%), uncertain economic growth (32%) and, for the first time, climate change and environmental change (27%) as issues that threaten to jeopardise their growth prospects. The latter only comes in at eighth position (24%) for CEOs globally. 

When it comes to business threats, Belgian CEOs are extremely concerned about the availability of skills (41% vs. 32% globally), the speed of technological change (24% vs. 29% globally) and cyber threats (29% vs. 33% globally and the global number-one threat).



"Business leaders have grown noticeably less positive about the global economy as a result of trade disputes and tense relations between major world powers."

Axel SmitsChairman, PwC Belgium


'Extremely concerned' about cyber threats

No less than 29% of Belgian CEOs are 'extremely concerned' about cyber threats as a potential threat to their organisation's growth prospects, a similar number to the 33% globally. The increasing complexity of cyber threats is the dominant factor shaping the cybersecurity strategies of more than three-quarters (76%) of Belgian firms, followed by cybersecurity and data privacy regulations (63%) and growing public concern over data privacy (37%).

Climate change: Not yet a priority

Climate change: Not yet a priority

Today, there’s a consensus that climate change is real and tied to human activity and emissions. While 27% of Belgian CEOs are extremely concerned about climate change and environmental damage and 22% strongly agree that their response to climate change will bring a reputational advantage to their organisation, their actions are not in sync.

With regards to making an initial analysis of the potential risks of future climate events, just five percent have analysed physical risks such as infrastructure damage and only 15% have analysed the risks related to the transition to a greener economy, such as changing CO2 emission standards and technological shifts. This is on par with their European counterparts - eight percent and 14% analysed physical risks and transition risks, respectively.

When asked about possible solutions, just under a quarter (24%) believe there’s sufficient cooperation between governments and companies to effectively limit the risk of climate change.

Contact us

Axel Smits

Axel Smits

Chairman & Territory Senior Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 490 65 88 94

Connect with PwC Belgium