February 24, 2016

Cyber attacks a major concern for businesses

UK banking chiefs have some tough predictions for 2016, according to recent PwC research. Cyber security is a major concern, with 36% saying they expect an increase in cyber attacks. Many expect their organisation to reduce headcount this year. They are also bracing themselves for tougher expectations from stakeholders with regards to banking transparency.

PwC’s 19th Annual Global CEO survey found that CEOs generally are less confident about the prospects for the global economy than they were when the survey was conducted the previous year. In addition, UK finance chiefs are even more downbeat about what 2016 is likely to bring than global business leaders. Of the 1,400 plus executives from 83 countries polled in the survey, nearly a third (29%) of UK bank leaders said they expected headcount to fall over the next 12 months, compared to 21% of global CEO’s. More than two-thirds of UK business leaders actually expect to recruit new hires in 2016, but only 43% of banking leaders predict increased recruitment in the sector.

What topped the list in terms of CEOs’ agendas for 2016? A whopping 92% of all UK CEOs say their number one priority for the year is people. This includes banking leaders, who say they will be “actively investing in their talent strategies to attract, retain and engage people they need to remain relevant and competitive”.

What are leaders intending to do to ensure they retain and recruit their top talent? Many employers plan to change the pay incentives and benefits that they offer employees. This was cited by 40% of UK CEOs across all sectors, 33% of global leaders and 32% of UK banking leaders.

However, there is widespread recognition that organisational behaviour and reputation is also important. The report found that 59% of CEOs think that the top talent wants to work with organisations that share their social values and 67% think this will be important in five years’ time.

Last year’s PwC survey found that CEOs were really concerned about regulation, skills, national debt, geopolitical uncertainty and taxes. All of these issues remain strong concerns for CEOs and the level of concern is at its highest point in five years. Regulation stands out as the number one concern at 79%, with geopolitical uncertainty following close behind at 74%.

The survey shows that employers find the regulatory burden to be costly and complex. Nearly nine out of 10 (87%) of banking and capital market leaders say over-regulation is a threat to growth.

Still suffering the fallout of the economic crisis and innumerable banking scandals, the banking sector knows it should respond to the desire for it be more transparent. As a result, 18% of UK banking leaders involved in the survey say they plan to respond to increasing stakeholder expectations by making significant changes to how they manage their tax affairs, compared to 6% of all CEOs across the UK.

In order to meet the requirements and deliver wider stakeholder expecations, 95% of UK CEO say they will leverage technology to achieve it.