NEWS30 May 2024

UK CEOs optimistic about financial prospects

AI Finance News Sustainability Technology Trends UK

UK – Chief executives in the UK are more optimistic about their company’s profitability compared with 12 months ago, according to research from EY.

small white flower in crack in pavement

The most recent EY CEO pulse survey, which surveys 100 UK chief executives, found that 61% reported feeling more optimistic about their immediate prospects.

Half ( 50%) of participants said they are prioritising investment in technology, including, AI to improve growth and productivity, with 49% reporting that they are prioritising improvements to data management and cyber security.

According to the research, sustainability is a higher priority than it was 12 months ago for 56% of chief executives surveyed.

However, 47% of participants agreed that their management teams ‘struggle to present a strong business case for sustainability investments that clearly outlines their financial benefits’.

In other findings, the majority of leaders surveyed ( 98%) reported that they expect to ‘actively pursue’ transaction initiatives over the next 12 months, with most of these ( 79%) considering divesting assets.

Reasons for considering a strategic transaction ranged from accessing new geographies ( 42%), securing supply chains ( 39%) to acquiring technology, new production capabilities or innovative start-ups ( 36%).

Silvia Rindone, UK&I managing partner for strategy and transactions, EY, said: “For UK CEOs, by far the most compelling immediate priorities involve enhancing existing technology to improve growth and productivity, as well as boosting data management and cybersecurity. However, this has come at the expense of achieving sustainability targets which are now considered more long-term priorities.

“This divergence between short-term financial returns and decarbonisation is shortsighted, so business leaders must ensure they remain committed to delivering these targets to move towards a more sustainable future.”


The CEO Outlook Pulse is a global survey. In the UK, the researchers polled 100 chief executives, covering industries in consumer and health, financial services, industrial and energy, infrastructure and TMT (technology, media and telecoms).

On behalf of the global EY organisation, in March and April 2024, FT Longitude, the research and content marketing division of the Financial Times Group, conducted two comparative surveys: firstly, an anonymous online survey of 1,200 CEOs from large companies around the world, with respondents representing 21 countries and five industries. The second survey was an anonymous online survey of 300 institutional investors. Respondents represented 21 countries.