Consulting and auditing company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published in early March the complete results of its second survey among business leaders in Bulgaria, part of the 20th annual global survey of the company. The survey was conducted among 103 top managers of leading Bulgarian companies and the global survey comprised a total of 1 379 men and women at leadership positions from 79 countries worldwide.
Here are the main conclusions of the survey.
Bulgarian CEOs are optimistic about the development of the world economy, technology and business in 2017. Every third believes that the global economic situation will improve over the next 12 months. In general, we are more optimistic compared to the rest of the world because as many as 90% have declared confidence in their business growth in the next three years. The evaluation of the leaders worldwide also seems more optimistic than expected in view of some unexpected events in 2016. More than half of the survey respondents (51%) are very confident in the mid-term perspectives for their companies, compared to 49% last year, while 38% are very optimistic about the growth perspectives in the short run, compared to 35% last year. In Bulgaria this percentage is even higher – 41% of business leaders are very confident in the short-term growth perspectives of their companies.
Bozhidar Neychev, managing partner of PwC for Southeast Europe, said in an interview that the results do not mean that our executives are more naive than their peers abroad. They are facing some main concerns that leaders accept as existing threats. They include the unstable economic growth and global uncertainty. In Bulgaria the future of the Eurozone replaced over-regulation as a major threat and noted a significant increase compared to last year – from 42% to 78%. Therefore, a few CEOs talk about potential growth through mergers and acquisitions, as they rather rely on organic growth, which is defined as moderate realistic optimism.
In terms of human resources, 48% of Bulgarian business leaders expect the number of their employees to go up in the next 12 months. Globally, there are concerns that new technology will eliminate some jobs and will increase unemployment, but in Bulgaria this concern is not relevant yet. Bulgarian businessmen said that despite technological progress, they still need more people and appreciate more skills that cannot be performed by machines. 83% of Bulgarian CEOs admit that it is very difficult to find innovative leaders with flair for creativity. It is namely the human capital that is among the priority areas, which managers want to focus on in 2017. The leading priority is innovation with 21%, as it is expected that its implementation will bring the greatest opportunities.
Bulgarian business leaders reasonably see greatest growth opportunities in European countries, with Germany as top leader with 42%. Over the last two decades, in addition to the transition to a market economy, two more macro-forces have affected Bulgaria and the region – globalization and the development of new technologies.
Sasha Bezuhanova, founder of MOVE.BG, commented in an interview with Bloomberg TV Bulgaria in February on the opportunities of Bulgaria on global markets. She said that today only 22% of Bulgarian companies have export potential, while at the same time 91% of the startup companies target foreign markets. She believes that Bulgaria has great benefits from globalization and this is a chance for our country to take advantage of global markets and the opportunities of this new environment.