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Singapore CEOs' outlook on economy goes up: survey

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Singapore ceos are more optimistic than their regional counterparts about the economic outlook in the coming years, according to a new survey.

Singapore

SINGAPORE CEOs are more optimistic than their regional counterparts about the economic outlook in the coming years, according to a new survey.

The poll by professional services firm KPMG found that Asean CEOs have become less confident about global growth - as well as the outlook for their own countries - compared with a year earlier.

But Singapore bucked this trend, with company heads here more upbeat about prospects than their global and Asean peers.

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The annual survey, which polled 1,261 CEOs from around the world including Asean, sought to find out about attitudes, priorities, and concerns regarding business growth over the next three years.

A total of 52 CEOs from Asean were polled - including 26 from Singapore with the remaining 26 hailing from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The poll found that six in 10 Asean CEOs are confident about global economic growth over the next three years. This is a drop from last year's survey when the share was eight in 10.

The survey also revealed that Asean CEOs' confidence in their own countries' three-year growth prospects has fallen by 4 per cent from last year.

However, the Singapore CEOs polled were not only more confident of the country's growth prospects compared with their global and regional peers, but also compared with last year.

Despite uncertainties over the economic outlook, business leaders across the region continue to see strong prospects for their companies.

kpmg survey

Almost all the Asean CEOs polled - 98 per cent - said they were confident in their company's growth prospects over the next three years, with more than half saying they were very confident. For Singapore CEOs, it was 96 per cent.

These numbers are in sharp contrast to their global peers - with a far lower 83 per cent expressing confidence in their own company's growth prospects over the next three years.

A larger share of Asean head honchos - 62 per cent - are also confident of achieving 2 to 5 per cent revenue growth over the next three years, compared with 41 per cent of global chiefs.

In Singapore, this number is even higher at 70 per cent.

"After some years of caution, we are now seeing an economic uptick that is driving optimism in Singapore," said KPMG Singapore managing partner Ong Pang Thye in the firm's report about the poll.

Some key risks to growth include regional geopolitical uncertainty and the possibility that the current bull run in global stocks and bonds might end, he said.

The poll also found that 71 per cent of Asean CEOs are struggling to keep pace with the speed of technological advancement - much higher than the global share of 37 per cent.

Barriers to implementing new technologies include complexity, risks and security concerns as well as legacy systems.

"As more Singapore companies invest in digital technologies, we expect to see a rise in new opportunities for competitive advantage," said Mr Ong.

"Our view is that technology will create new customer experiences and business models, drive operational and cost efficiencies and enable companies the ability to reach customers outside our geographical boundary.

"Technology-related sectors remain a key focus area for Singapore's future growth. Singapore has seen extremely promising developments in fintech, particularly in technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and big data."