Insight & Analysis

Press release: Citi: inflation and market volatility remain the biggest concerns for business leaders

Published: Oct 2023

27th September 2023 – Inflation and ongoing market volatility remain the primary concerns of business leaders of mid-sized corporates and organizations surveyed by Citi Commercial Bank (CCB) in its first ‘Global Industry Insights Report’ released today.

Press release news paper

Of approximately 500 survey respondents, globally, a majority ranked inflation and market volatility as the two primary factors challenging the wellbeing of their business followed by the regulatory environment and trade.

Key findings from the data collected in the survey, on a global basis:

  • As inflation represents the most threatening factor to the respondents’ businesses, 72% of those surveyed agreed that managing costs or keeping costs down is the biggest challenge to business success they face today.

  • Notably, 52% of respondents stated that they believed supply chain issues have improved over the last 12 months; 36% of respondents believe those issues have remain unchanged and only 13% stated they believed that they have worsened.

  • 55% of respondents say they are on track for being carbon neutral by 2050, with healthcare companies leading the way. However, only 37% of respondents said that net zero and/or ESG in general is a primary focus for their company.

  • 52% of those surveyed say that their organization is considering international expansion in the next year, with 27% stating they are looking to expand to Asia-Pacific markets.

  • 27% of respondents say that they are either somewhat dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied with progress they have made with their financial goals in 2023.

Tasnim Ghiawadwala, Global Head of Citi Commercial Bank, commented, “It comes as no surprise that inflation and market volatility are front of mind for companies across industries worldwide. Inflation has touched everything from operations to financial or human resource planning, even inventory and supply chain processes. It is impacting long-term strategic planning and vision making it critical that mid-sized corporates be nimble and flexible with the market. Keeping an eye on cost is vital but remembering that the core proposition – what differentiates your company for your customer – is at the heart of success.”

International expansion – on the cards?

Companies that are most likely looking at international expansion over the next year tend to be operating in the Consumer and Retail industry, with 63% of respondents saying they are considering it, and the Digital, Technology and Communications industry, with 67% agreeing. Of the industries surveyed, those least likely to engage in international expansion this year are in Healthcare, as well as Business and Professional Services.

Supply chain outlook improving on the whole…

Interestingly, 65% of respondents who identified themselves as working at Consumer and Retail companies said that their view of supply chain issues over the last 12 months has improved. This is followed by 55% for Industrials and 53% for Digital, Technology and Communications. By contrast, the industry that had the most negative outlook on supply chain was Healthcare with 20% of respondents saying that supply chain issues had worsened in the last 12 months.

What is the biggest obstacle to success…

Managing costs seems to be front of mind the most for Industrials companies, with 80% of respondents in that sector saying that it is the biggest challenge they face today while leading their business. Healthcare closely follows with 72% of respondents in the sector stating the same. However, it is a shared challenge across all industries due to the continued macroeconomic headwinds around inflation and interest rate change.

The second biggest obstacle or challenge to success identified by mid-sized corporates surveyed, globally, is ‘Staffing’. With changing work patterns post COVID 19 pandemic and higher employment levels across certain geographies, 47% of respondents, globally, said it was the biggest challenge to the success of their business; this was particularly pronounced in those surveyed from Digital, Technology and Communications industry, with 60% saying it was the biggest challenge to the success of their business, and 52% of Healthcare industry respondents agreeing.

Gaurang Hattangdi, Global Head of Coverage for Citi Commercial Bank said, “Our industry coverage model, within Citi Commercial Bank, is an important component of how we seek to serve our clients. We strive for excellence in advisory, solutions and services – this is achieved through industry knowledge. The first Global Industry Insights Report demonstrates the value we seek to bring to our clients who can understand not only what is front of mind for their peers, but also for related industries. This report gives us the opportunity to examine the issues that remain central in business and financial planning and how we can best support our clients in addressing them.”

Select Industry-Specific Insights

A critical part of the survey and subsequent report is the findings relating to insights from an industry or sector perspective.

  • For Business and Professional Services respondents, customer service, staffing and change driven by technology are front of mind as supply chain issues rarely affect these more people-driven operations.

  • For Consumer and Retail respondents, working capital is important in volatile markets as consumer products and retail is a capital-intensive sector – competitive advantage is given to those who can produce and have a sufficient supply of goods to meet the needs of the consumer.

  • For Digital, Technology and Communications respondents, funding dynamics have changed and pose a bigger challenge with venture capital affected by higher interest rates and the macroeconomic conditions impacting company valuations.

  • For Healthcare respondents, inflationary impacts from the pandemic have shifted working capital management as a priority for these companies when in the past their strong cash flow profiles would have made this not as pressing a concern.

  • For Industrials respondents, global trade is under pressure which has led to increased adoption of an ‘in market, for the market’ model, prompting geographic expansion.

Survey Methodology

Citi Commercial Bank’s 2023 Global Industry Insights Report survey was conducted online from April 2023 to June 2023 for mid-sized corporates. In total, more than 500 companies completed the survey – participation was voluntary and responses anonymous. Respondents to the survey varied in title with:

  • 33% identifying as CFO/Finance/VP/Director/Manager

  • 31% identifying as Other VP/Director/Manager

  • 23% identifying as CEO/President/Owner

  • 7% identifying as Treasurer/Treasury Manager

  • 5% identifying as Accounting or Comptroller

The data comes from clients across various industry segments including:

  • Consumer and Retail

  • Healthcare

  • Business and Professional Services

  • Digital, Technology and Communications

  • Industrials

  • Non-profits (U.S.-only)

The respondents to the survey were spread across geographies –

  • 43% of respondents are from organization headquartered in North America;

  • 34% of respondents are from organizations headquartered in Asia Pacific;

  • 15% of respondents are from organizations headquartered in Europe, Middle East, Africa;

  • 8% of respondents are from organizations headquartered in Latin America.

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