INTOUCH : Kiwi CEOs optimistic

They’ve tightened the purse strings, seen off the recession and are now confident their organisations are in strong position to face the future.
That’s the optimistic tone being sounded by New Zealand CEOs according to the PricewaterhouseCooper’s 113th annual global CEO Survey released at the World Economic Forum last month. Containing the views of 1200 CEOs worldwide, it this year included specific local focus culled from interviews with 72 of New Zealand’s top leaders in both public and private sectors.
Like their international counterparts they’re predicting more regulation on the horizon but are divided as to whether that would be an issue for them or not – 44 percent believed over-regulation was threat to business growth.
The survey showed 90 percent of CEOs had re-assessed their overall tolerance for risk and 79 percent have changed their approach to it. Staff training and development is still on the radar with 75 percent planning to invest in leadership and talent development over the next three years.
Unsurprisingly they believe New Zealand’s economic recovery is largely dependent on stable Kiwi dollar, acceptable levels of unemployment and stable commodity prices – though they’re not exactly expecting any miracles on these fronts in the short term.
Globally most CEOs experienced greater engagement from their boards in determining strategy and risk management, New Zealand results however, (44 percent) lagged the global average (56 percent) and countries like Canada (65 percent).
On trans-Tasman harmonisation, most CEOs see further strengthening of existing trade relations with Australia as being beneficial however they differed in their views on the form harmonisation should take. While some see the two countries ultimately sharing currency and single economy, others clearly felt New Zealand should retain its independence, only harmonising on matters that deliver benefits.
New Zealand CEOs proved to be at odds with their Aussie counterparts in their views as to where future business growth would occur. Both had Asia on their lists but where the Kiwis put the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Australian CEOs chose Africa and Western Europe.
Overall, New Zealand CEOs expressed the view that 2010 is crunch time for New Zealand and for the Government, noted PWC head Bruce Hassall. “This is the year where game-changing policies need to be rolled out to lift growth and productivity and to incentivise people to work and invest wisely.”

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