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Hungarian CEOs exude optimism

While PwC’s annual survey of company leaders found most expect growth, CEOs here also expressed concerns about sourcing good workers.

The heads of Hungarian companies apparently feel good about their future. In PwC’s annual CEO survey, which includes Hungary for the fifth year now, 84% of CEOs in this country are confident about their prospects for revenue growth, compared with 82% of CEOs worldwide.

The global survey included more than 1,400 CEOs, and the Hungarian survey, conducted in cooperation with the Confederation of Hungarian Employers and Industrialists (MGYOSZ) included more than 150 CEOs in this country. While acting as an essential indicator of overall confidence, the survey also provides detailed information on challenges and opportunities that CEOs are seeing.

When they look at the global economy, 54% of Hungarian CEOs expect growth, compared to only 27% of global CEOs, the survey found. Hungarian CEOs are also more optimistic about the Hungarian economy’s growth prospects: 59% expect growth, which is up from 51% last year. It is also clear from this year’s responses that the lack of qualified professionals is of particular concern to CEOs in this country, and they say it makes them value their existing employees more.

While noting that this is the first time Hungarians are more optimistic than the world average, Nick Kós, Country Managing Partner at PwC, said CEOs here “perceive the lack of qualified professionals and skilled workers as a serious impediment to growth, which they will need to overcome in order to stay competitive.”

The survey shows that traditional target markets remain attractive. While globally the US, China and Germany are once again the most attractive targets for investment, among Hungarian CEOs Germany ranks as the most important target market. Neighboring markets, like Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Austria and Czech Republic are also said to be of interest to Hungarian CEOs.

The survey found that most CEOs anticipate a multi-polar world rather than a globalizing one – as multiple value systems, rules of law, economic and trading models are expected to hold sway in various parts of the world. Most of the CEOs queried said they only expect convergence with regard to free and open access to the internet. The two trends that CEOs see as having the highest impact on their business operations are technological advances and demographic changes.

The lack of qualified professionals is of particular concern to Hungarian CEOs, as 54% of them said they expect to hire over the next year. This marks a notable increase over last year, when only 42% of company leaders here said they expected to increase headcount.

“We launched the Hungarian CEO Survey five years ago, and this is the first time we see that CEOs in Hungary are somewhat more optimistic than their global counterparts.”

–Nick Kós, PwC Country Managing Partner

Growth: High expectations; neighboring countries targeted

“Hungary’s 6.5% unemployment rate is one of the lowest among the EU28. However, the other side of the coin is that thousands of jobs remain vacant in the IT sector, in service centers and healthcare.”

–Dr. Péter Futó, MGYOSZ President

Outlook: Multi-polar world envisioned, instead of one dominated by globalizing trends

Threats: Lack of professionals

“Many CEOs reported using feedback from employees to measure their success, while 37% also said that customer loyalty and feedback were key.”

–Anita Mekler, Partner, Tax & Legal svcs., PwC

Success factors: Training, strategic succession planning and shaping the workplace culture are part of talent management