New data has revealed that 96% of UK corporations have seen hackers successfully penetrate their IT systems in an attempt to steal, change or make public important data.
Whilst many firms are actively engaged in policies to safeguard against cybercrime, 9.1% of UK firms have not acted to protect themselves from hacking.
The survey, which ended June 5, has been conducted for 77 consecutive quarters, making it the world's longest-running and most comprehensive research on senior finance executives. This round elicited over 1000 responses from global CFOs and finance directors.
More than half (53%) of CFOs in the UK also indicated that difficulty in hiring and retaining qualified employees is a top three concern, while the second most cited concern was rising wages and salaries.
Indeed, UK companies expect wage hikes of more than 4.5% over the next year. Hiring should stay in line with this year’s figure.
Economic uncertainty poses a risk to only 18% of respondents, whilst a strong pound was hindering 36%.
"Wage growth expectations in the UK might become a real concern for companies,” said Philippe Dupuy, finance professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management. “As a consequence they might start to rely more on offshore outsourced employees rather than on domestic ones.”
In Europe, 92% of European corporations have been hacked and 23% have not acted to prevent attacks.
In the U.S., more than 80% of companies indicate they have been hacked. Globally, over 85% of firms have been hacked across Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The main risk for the European corporations is still the economic uncertainty and currency valuation – around 40% of respondents cite volatility in the EU economy as a risk. However European optimism has risen to 60, the second highest level since 2007.
Capital spending growth will be modest (1.8%), but employment is expected to increase more than 2% for the first time since 2011. Wages should rise by about 2%.
For 65% of the European firms, the recent change in the value of the EUR has not been positive on their business and 70% think that the USD will continue to appreciate. These numbers are in line in the UK (respectively 62.5% and 60%).
Following QE certain maturities of the EURIBOR have turned negative: the lender should pay the borrower. However, 36% of the European corporations say that banks refuse to do so when it concerns loans and 20% for derivatives instruments such as swaps.
The strong U.S. dollar has significantly hurt exporters in the States, with more than 80% of firms with at least one-fourth of their total sales overseas noting a negative impact. About 40% of these big exporters say they have reduced capital spending plans due to the strong U.S. dollar.
U.S. companies expect wage hikes of more than 3% over the next year, with hiring increasing by more than 2%. Wage and employment growth is predicted to be strongest in tech, services and consulting, health care and construction.
Global economic outlook
U.S. CFOs remain optimistic about the U.S. economy's outlook. On a scale from zero to 100, they rate the outlook at 63, down from 65 last quarter but still the third highest since 2007. U.S. companies plan to increase capital spending 6% over the next year.
Asian CFOs are equally optimistic (63 on a scale from zero to 100), but this is a drop from the outlook of two or three years ago. Capital spending should average nearly 10%. Wages are expected to rise by 2% in Japan and by an average of more than 6% over the rest of Asia. Wage inflation is the top business concern in China.
European optimism has risen to 60, the second highest level since 2007. Capital spending growth will be modest (1.8%), but employment is expected to increase more than 2% for the first time since 2011. Wages should rise by about 2%.
The optimism index is very low in Africa – 44 on a 100 point scale, down from 48 last quarter. Employment will increase modestly (2%), while wages are expected to rise by about 6% over the next 12 months.
Median capital spending will increase 5%. African CFOs are worried about a host of issues, especially the reliability and cost of electricity, regulatory requirements, economic uncertainty and weak demand.
Latin American economic optimism remains low (53) overall but varies quite a bit by country. Brazil is the most pessimistic large economy in the world, with optimism of 36 on the index and no growth expected for the median firm in capital spending or hiring. Wages will increase by a little more than 5%.
Chile, Peru and Ecuador have moderate outlooks, with optimism in the low 50s. Mexican CFOs are optimistic (63) and plan to increase capital spending and employment by more than 8%.
Wage increases should average about 4% across the region. Top concerns include economic uncertainty, currency risk, governmental policies and regulations, and weak demand. Brazilian CFOs are also very worried about inflation.