HLB Survey of Business Leaders 2024: Is optimism waning?

In a major survey, HLB assesses the mood of business leaders worldwide every year. As part of the company's fifth annual survey, HLB asked the leaders about various factors with some interesting results. So, how are these leaders navigating changes in the international business landscape? Furthermore, how quickly can they adapt to new technologies (including AI)?

Looking at global growth

There are mixed projections from business services leaders about general global growth. One-third of them believe that the growth rate is declining, while a further third believe that conditions will remain the same. The remainder are more optimistic and believe that the global economic growth rate will increase next year. Furthermore, a higher proportion of those surveyed expect economic growth to grow this year than during the survey’s first year, when it was at 24%.

It’s interesting to compare this data with business leaders in other sectors who, on balance, seem more buoyant. 41% of them believe that global growth is on the rise.

When looking at their own businesses specifically, 77% of leaders in the business services sector are confident in their ability to grow revenue in 2024. Over a quarter are very confident, with firms based in northern Europe having the most confidence compared to other regions.

Leaders now accept a growing range of business risks. Economic uncertainty is the top risk for business services, as mentioned by 82% of respondents, followed by inflation cited by 80%.

"Although not in the top risks, disruptive emerging technologies have risen from 36% to 53% over the last year"

This might be due to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in business services like accounting, copywriting, and others.

To help them overcome market and trade disruption, many cross-sector leaders see technology as the saviour, with two-thirds of global respondents stating that new tech could help them overcome future cross-border business challenges. Yet business services leaders are not as optimistic, with only 50% agreeing with this statement.

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