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Political Uncertainty Is Key Challenge For Business Planning

A NEW MARCUM LLP-HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY SURVEY finds the uncertain political climate influences CEO’s decision-making process and corporate strategy.

Political uncertainty is now at the forefront of CEOs’ minds as they navigate the complexities of the upcoming year, according to the latest CEO Survey from Marcum LLP and Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business. The survey, conducted the week of February 19, 2024, is a barometer for middle-market business leaders’ perspectives, issues, and action plans.

Political Uncertainty
(Photo: Adobe Stock / deagreez)

Zarb School MBA students, led by Dr. Andrew Forman, associate professor of international business and marketing, developed, conducted, and analyzed the survey in partnership with Marcum.

“This survey serves as a potent reminder that, amidst uncertainty, opportunity arises for the sharp CEO,” commented Dr. Forman. “The results underscore the significance of foresight and flexibility as leaders strive to remain competitive and innovative.”

Among a broad range of issues, 45.3% of CEOs surveyed identify political uncertainty as a critical concern influencing their decision-making process and corporate strategy. This sentiment underscores the pressing nature of the political climate on business stability and growth. Moreover, CEOs continue to grapple with managing interest rates and the cost of capital while preparing for the potential repercussions of an economic downturn.

The push for efficiency, cost containment, and the competitive battle for talent dominate CEOs’ agendas in an increasingly tight labor market. Adapting to evolving customer expectations, unearthing new commercial prospects, elevating customer service, integrating innovative technologies like AI, and reinforcing supply chain robustness also rank high among their operational priorities.

Political Uncertainty
(Source: Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey)

CEO Optimism And The Business Outlook 

While optimism among CEOs has experienced a minor ebb since the last survey, a resilient 42.6% retain a positive view of the business environment. The aggregate confidence level of the CEOs has seen an uptick, climbing to a weighted average of 6.9 from 6.7.

Optimism increased notably across various sectors, including construction, healthcare, professional services, retailing, and technology, while financial services and manufacturing saw a decline in their optimism levels.

Economic Realities And The Impact On Business Planning

Economic issues remain a pivotal concern to business planning, though there has been a slight decrease in CEOs ranking it within their top three concerns. Persistent inflationary pressures and the availability of talent reflect the ongoing labor market challenges and cost management complexities.

Forecasting Staffing Strategies Amidst Uncertainty

Despite persisting uncertainties, most CEOs (80.1%) are poised to sustain or increase staffing numbers, with only 11.3% anticipating cutbacks and 8.6% adopting a cautious approach to hiring for the forthcoming year.

“The ability to adapt and remain agile in the face of political and economic headwinds is what defines successful leadership today,” said Jeffrey Weiner, Chairman & CEO of Marcum. “Our survey highlights the importance of these attributes as we continue to guide our clients through these complex times.”

“We teach our students that obstacles are inevitable and present an opportunity to cultivate resilience in leadership and workplace culture,” commented Frank G. Zarb School of Business Dean Janet Lenaghan. “It is a process for change that leads to creative problem-solving, teamwork, and the strategic courage needed to stay ahead of the curve.”

You can download a copy of the report here.

Read more about business resilience and continuity at Continuity Insights.

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