More than a third of insurance industry chief executives believe that their companies won’t be economically viable in a decade if their businesses continue running on the same course, a new survey report reveals.
The actual percentage, 37 percent, is one of the data points included in PwC’s online report on its 26th Annual Global CEO Survey. The 37 percent for insurance industry CEOs is slightly better than the average across all industries: 39 percent.
While those CEOs feel it’s critically important for them to reinvent their businesses for the future, they face daunting near-term challenges, PwC says. Chief among them is the economy: 73 percent of 4,410 CEOs from 105 countries and territories across multiple industries project that global economic growth will decline over the next 12 months. That’s a stark reversal from last year, when a similar proportion—77 percent—anticipated improvement in global growth.
While PwC doesn’t provide the insurance-specific responses to the questions about near-term challenges or courses of action, the aggregate survey responses are useful benchmarks for insurance industry CEOs.
Among the other findings:
• Balance of priorities isn’t ideal. Asked how they spend their time, and how they would like to spend their time, on average, the CEOs surveyed across all industries said they spend 53 percent of their time driving current operating performance. They would like to spend 10 percent less. Ideally, they would spend 43 percent on their time on these current operations and 57 percent of their time on evolving the business and its strategy to meet future demands, the CEOs said on average.
• Forward-looking investments are happening. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of organizations say they are investing in automating processes and systems, and 60 percent of those investment are aimed at reinventing businesses for the future rather than preserving the current business. CEOs said they are also implementing systems to upskill workforces in priority areas (72 percent), and deploying technology such as the cloud, AI and other advanced technology (69 percent)—again with roughly 60 percent of those investments geared toward future change.
• Empowerment for innovation is lacking. While PwC said the survey results show that companies are investing dollars in the future, CEOs involved in the balancing act of reinvention and navigating near-term operating challenge are also hamstrung by cultural obstacles. Only 23 percent of CEOs say leaders in their company make strategic decisions for their function without consulting the CEO. And only 46 percent say leaders in their company tolerate small scale failures.
• Cutting costs not people. In response to the current economic climate, CEOs are looking to cut costs and spur revenue growth: 52 percent report reducing operating costs, 51 percent are raising prices and 48 percent are diversifying product and service offerings. Sixty percent do not plan to reduce the size of their workforce in the next 12 months.
• Growth stalled. Less than half (42 percent) of CEOs across all industries are confident about their company’s prospects for revenue growth in the next 12 months:
• Profit challenged. Asked about challenges to profitability within their own industries over the next decade, 56 percent said changing customer demand and preferences will impact profitability, 53 percent selected changes in regulation, 52 percent said labor or skills shortages, and 49 percent, technology disruptions.
The survey also summarizes CEO responses to questions about expected impacts of climate change impacts and geopolitical risks on their businesses.
Summarizing the mood of CEOs conveyed by the survey responses in a media statement about the report, Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC, said: “A volatile economy, decades-high inflation, and geopolitical conflict have contributed to a level of CEO pessimism not seen in over a decade. CEOs globally are consequently re-evaluating their operating models and cutting costs, yet despite these pressures, they are continuing to put their people front and center as they look to retain talent in the wake of the ‘Great Resignation.'”
He concluded, “If organizations are not only to thrive—but survive the next few years— they must carefully balance the dual imperative of mitigating short-term risks and operational demands with long-term outcomes—as businesses that don’t transform, won’t be viable.”