Each year, PwC conducts a survey of CEOs globally to gauge their level of confidence and priorities for their businesses. Now in its 27th year, over 4,700 CEOs in 105 countries responded this year.
The majority (61%) of UK CEOs expect the global economy to improve this year, a marked increase on last year at 21%.  They are less confident in the UK economy with only 39% expecting it to improve, albeit this is also a significant increase on prior year.  These green shoots for the UK are further evidenced by a marked increase in UK CEOs expecting M&A and headcount increases.
The UK is still the number one location for US CEOs looking to invest and is fourth globally behind the US, China and Germany.
Climate change remains high on the agenda for UK CEOs, with 85% saying they have either begun or completed steps to improve energy efficiency.  Business transformation overall is linked to this as a key priority.

The UK is also taking a leading position in adopting Generative AI, with CEOs here embracing GenAI at a faster rate than international peers.

Some 42% of UK chief executives implemented GenAI technologies in the last year, compared with 32% of CEOs globally, driven in part by seeking game-changing opportunities in the face of economic headwinds. The only countries adopting GenAI faster are Japan, where 50% of CEOs say they have, and Norway (53%) and Finland (49%), the survey found.

UK CEOs are also more confident than their peers in the commercial benefits of GenAI and the employee efficiencies it could bring as well as being more mindful of the risks.

Kevin Ellis, Senior Partner, PwC UK, said:


“After an uphill trek against economic headwinds, UK chief execs are seeking game-changing opportunities. GenAI presents a ‘move or lose’ moment – implemented with care, it offers huge benefits for efficiency, competitiveness, and ultimately profitability.  The UK’s service-based economy makes it ideally placed for the GenAI revolution – building tech is only half the battle, ensuring people and businesses can use it is key.


“Investment in GenAI does not appear to be at the expense of jobs, with UK bosses predicting more headcount increases than their counterparts overseas, reflecting the resources needed to adopt GenAI and the growth it could bring. By investing in AI, the UK has a better chance of closing the productivity gap with other major economies.”



Hear from Kevin on GenAI and our Survey findings 

You can hear more on GenAI and the survey findings by listening to our Senior Partner in the third and final episode of our thenowhereoffice podcast series – focussing on key aspects of AI including the risks and opportunities, and impact on work and society.