PwC: Hungarian CEOs Bullish on COVID Rebound

Figures

Despite the extraordinary challenges created by COVID, Hungary’s bosses have never been so optimistic about the rate of either global or Hungarian economic growth, PwC says in its 10th annual Hungarian CEO survey.

Some 65% of the 240 respondents think the growth of both the global and Hungarian economies will accelerate. That is a new record, and a huge turn round from last year, when just 9% of CEOs were confident about global economic growth, and 16% about Hungarian economic growth.

Only a third of the CEOs interviewed reported that they had been forced to reduce their headcount in 2020, while half expect an increase in 2021. Over the next three years, as many as 62% of them expect to grow staffing levels.

The pandemic does seem to have deepened worries business leaders already had. While the percentage of CEOs concerned about a higher tax burden has increased to 50% (up from 21% last year), crisis preparedness, the health of the workforce and the spread of misinformation also rank much higher.

Surely to the surprise of no one, pandemics and other health crises have moved to the top spot on the list of CEOs’ concerns at 82%. Other worries include the availability of key skills (an old chestnut), exchange rate volatility, uncertain economic growth and cyber threats.

Interestingly, the survey reveals that 38% of the companies have not been adversely affected by the pandemic, while most of those negatively impacted expect their performance to return to pre-COVID levels by 2022.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digitization and automation in almost every industry. In the financial sector, 86% of CEOs expect a boom in e-commerce in the next 12 months. Nearly 70% of respondents anticipate a decline in the demand for access to goods and services in a physical location, and they also expect the use of cash to diminish.

Three-quarters of respondents say they miss forming personal relationships with employees or customers/clients via face-to-face interaction, and the majority also miss the ability to boost employee motivation via in-office collaboration. However, the share of CEOs who miss working from the office is only 8%, according to PwC’s research.

The 10th Hungarian CEO Survey was conducted in parallel with the global survey to gain a more comprehensive picture of what Hungarian senior executives think. The full survey was published on Thursday, March 25. An info-video and further details are available on PwC’s Hungarian CEO Survey website (http://www.pwc.com/hu/ceosurvey).

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of  March 26, 2021.

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