CEOs worldwide are now increasingly confident about their companies' growth potential but fearful of the barriers to the risk taking needed to reach their goals, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' seventh annual Global CEO Survey.

More than 80 percent of the nearly 1,400 respondents report confidence in revenue growth in the short (next 12 months) and medium (next three years) terms. Despite this optimism, CEOs recognize that internal and external threats could inhibit business growth, primarily increased competition, loss of key talent, over-regulation, currency fluctuations and global terrorism.

Overwhelmingly, the survey finds that CEOs believe they can move their companies forward successfully but will need to be more aggressive risk takers to do so. At the same time, managing these risks will hinge on implementing integrated enterprise risk management structures and processes within their organizations.

"Enterprise risk management is good medicine," said Samuel A. DiPiazza, Global Chief Executive Officer of PricewaterhouseCoopers. "It provides a framework for CEOs and management teams to deal with the risks and opportunities associated with uncertainty, in order to enhance value. It also increases CEO confidence in their business operations and encourages them to act more aggressively on behalf of their companies and stakeholders."

Asked to rank the leading threats to business growth, CEOs said that increased competition is the issue of foremost concern. Approximately 63 percent of the CEOs consider it a threat. Of nearly equal concern is over-regulation, with 59 percent. Forty-eight percent of CEOs felt that currency fluctuations are a problem and 45 percent felt that the loss of key talent could hamper success. Surprisingly, global terrorism was ranked fifth among major threats to business growth, at 40 percent.

CEOs believe that these environmental factors have made the global business climate generally more risk-averse, even as CEOs view themselves as risk takers. But they understand that to thrive in today's uncertain economy, they must develop a greater appetite for risk and a more systematic way of managing it.

Respondents share the view that rigorous risk management is essential to corporate stability and long-term performance. Most CEOs are confident that basic risk management policies and processes are in place in their organizations. However, CEOs worry that significant barriers exist that might inhibit effective implementation. While approximately two-thirds of the surveyed companies have basic processes in place, only one-third of the companies have achieved full implementation. Why? CEOs identify three top barriers: availability of information, timeliness of information and effectively trained implementation personnel.

Overall, however, it is the degree of commitment at the level of the CEO and board, and in the company as a whole, that ultimately affects the successful implementation of an enterprise risk management system.

"There is no question that enterprise risk management allows CEOs to take more aggressive risks, and, ultimately, enhance the value of their organizations," said DiPiazza. "It is crucial that all organizations implement successful enterprise-wide risk management systems, especially, if they expect to thrive in these uncertain times." PricewaterhouseCoopers (www.pwc.com) provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services for public and private clients. More than 120,000 people in 139 countries connect their thinking, experience and solutions to build public trust and enhance value for clients and their stakeholders.

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