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Complex, Conflicting and Changing World – Predictions for 2024

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We had the pleasure in hosting our recent CEO lunch, with a perspective to see what 2024 holds for all of us.

By way of introduction: ‘We live in a complex, conflicting and changing world. On the one hand, we have ongoing geopolitical upheaval, including US & UK elections, macroeconomic head winds, energy security and in some quarter’s scepticism on sustainability. On the other, there are positives, inflation likely to fall, ED&I has become more mainstream, the application of digital can be a catalyst for good, generative AI’s is real, and the green transition can revolutionise lives, especially in non-OECD countries. We asked our lunch guests, against a backdrop of sometimes contradictory expectations, as business leaders, what are your predictions for 2024 and beyond?’

The five key takeaways arising from the discussion:

Whilst Labour had the edge for the UK election win, the option of a hung Parliament is very real. Within the USA, wishful thinking for a Democrat President was considered as a slightly better option than a Republican. Though both Biden and Trump were regarded as weak candidates.

As ever, geopolitics will dictate global GDP growth prospects and market confidence, coupled with new technologies, human fallibility, calibre of decision makers and new surprises. Preparing for further unpredictability was viewed as a wise choice.

Both interlinked and of global growing concern. The British Chamber of Commerce shared how their recent survey found 24% of UK businesses have already been adversely affected by extreme weather. This is likely to increase globally and is driving immigration as people move away from unsustainable economies. The UK takes 7% of the immigrants who travel into Europe as ‘we are at the end of the line’, though the impact on the economy is significant. The global movement of people is going to increase. How to devise and implement practical positive solutions has yet to be tabled.

An ongoing journey with both detractors and evangelists. The issues of energy security and affordability generally override ESG/sustainability concerns, as few Governments (as witnessed in OECD countries) are prepared to challenge consumer behaviour head on or look to reduce power supply. Few democratic elections are won taking these tactics! We live in a hypocritical world and the energy transition will not be straight forward. Government fiscal support (not always rational and sometimes lacking common sense) remains a key catalyst.

For business leaders this is a given for the year ahead. In a business climate where there is pressure to have transparent ESG metrics and incentivise ongoing improvements, having push back from major shareholders in linking executive renumeration to ESG performance is not uncommon. Keeping executive pay based on more traditional financial measures remains in some cases, though this is expected to change in the future with more regulation and stakeholder pressure.

Notwithstanding political dysfunction, inflation and debt levels, we remain cautiously optimistic for 2024, with greater momentum expected in the second half of the year.

Corporate agility is increasingly important. We all know external stakeholders and influencers have differing agendas. To succeed in this business environment requires a more aligned external ‘radar’ and greater understanding of the geopolitical context to rightly anticipate events and to position organisations for a longer term sustainable future. Having a proactive commitment to innovation, resilience and alignment with global trends will also enhance success.

Acknowledgements


Hoggett Bowers are very grateful to all our guests and a special thank you to:

Aldo GoviPresident & CEOInfineum International Ltd
Bob TaylorCEOPortsmouth Water
Jason SimpsonCEORAW
Jon DyeCEOHiscox Insurance Company Limited
Louise HosteMDSpar Uk Ltd
Mike MaudsleyCEOEnfinium
Neil CampbellCEOInspiration Healthcare
Neil HartleyPartnerVelocity Partners
Neil McDermottCEOLow Carbon Contracts
Paul LewneyMDKavli UK Ltd
Pietro FoschiGroup Executive DirectorBSI
Shevaun HavilandDirector GeneralBCC
Sue HayesCEOThe Nottingham
Tim StedmanCEOAgilyx