Can shifting sands be a solid foundation for growth?
New EY survey sees global executives are bullish on growth and plan to seize opportunities from geopolitical uncertainty
A new longitudinal global survey by EY of middle market companies has revealed big ambitions for growth, despite geopolitical uncertainties, shifting demographics and rapid advancements in technology. Of the 2,340 C-suite executives surveyed, 90% see uncertainty as providing growth opportunities; over 30% are planning to grow significantly more than latest global World Bank GDP forecasts; and 14% have current-year growth ambitions of over 16%.
“We see middle market leaders confident of their ability to grow through uncertainty, investing in both technology and talent to help drive their growth strategies,” says Agnes Chan, EY Managing Partner, Hong Kong and Macau. “We also see them relentlessly focused on operational excellence and access to new markets, led by a strong conviction of their company’s purpose and need to benefit the communities they serve.”
What is it about middle market companies that enables them to accelerate growth? Are there lessons for all corporate leaders, whatever the size of their enterprise?
Middle market companies represent 99% of all enterprises and contribute almost half (45%) of global GDP. More importantly, it is in the middle market that lies the engines for global growth, for high impact entrepreneurship and for innovation.
To better understand middle market leaders’ current growth ambitions, attitudes to global risks and strategies for accelerating growth, EY conducted the above-mentioned global survey of C-suite executives. Balanced to reflect global GDP, our large-scale survey of companies from young start-ups – companies under five years old – to mature companies with up to US$3b revenues, reveals how C-suite leaders set priorities, review investment opportunities and measure success.
The EY Growth Barometer explores four main themes:
• How do middle market company leaders view the macro environment?
• Given a range of uncertainties, what are their current year growth plans and what are their growth priorities?
• What are the key risks to achieving their growth plans?
• What strategies are they using to meet their growth targets?
As globalization, demographic shifts and new technologies create seismic shifts in global markets and customer behaviors, the dynamic middle market is forging a range of capabilities to accelerate growth.
Interconnectivity and globalization have brought us closer together, but not all share in the benefits. Sections of the global population feel disconnected from both corporate and political leadership. Middle market leaders show how important it is to not just grow, but to grow sustainably with a purpose that upholds their commitments to corporate social responsibility.
Much as seismic resistant architecture is constructed using flexible steel tendons, so today’s middle market leaders are developing flexible and agile internal muscle to withstand transformative forces, whatever they are and whenever they strike. Many C-suite leaders are integrating internal skills and capabilities with a wider external network of skills and capabilities that can also be used to build flexible strength.