People and technology:

At the forefront of European leaders' recovery agenda

HLB Survey of Business Leaders 2021 - Europe outlook

expect economic growth to decline 59% committed to building organic growth 45% confident in ability to steer their business in a new direction 90% acknowledge weaknesses in talent acquisition 28%

Risk-averse, but recovery ready

The pandemic still persists atop European leaders’ agendas. 81% named the ongoing consequences of COVID-19 as the main risk for their business in 2021. Uneven success with the virus containment across countries, manufacturing stop-starts, and repercussions around Brexit understandably made Europeans wary of the economic climate both within the region and globally. Admirably, local leaders managed to find a strong footing amidst the challenging (and constantly changing) operating conditions.

European leaders are focused on improving operational efficiency, further enhancing their digital collaboration abilities, and carrying on with the adoption of emerging technologies. Tempered in their plans and actions, but fairly tech-savvy European leaders are realigning their business to benefit from the newly emerged digital opportunities, as well as the “green” agenda.

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Key findings

Lesley Hornung

Head of Marketing & Digital

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Cautiously confident:

China's businesses move forward

HLB Survey of Business Leaders 2021 - China outlook

launching new products and services 53% confident in their own ability to grow 83% rank AI as the top tech priority for future success 50% plan to re-assess their supply chain to source closer to home 91%

Penchant for pandemic-prompted growth

The first to enter and the first to emerge from the worst of the pandemic, China had a ‘headroom’ for an economic rebound. Though timing isn’t the only crucial factor making China’s leaders more optimistic about their business growth prospects and normalisation of economic activity. High infrastructure readiness, digital maturity, timely government support among other factors put local leaders at a better starting position within the new growth cycle as we found in our survey.  

Despite a strong focus on tech-led and growth-oriented initiatives, China-based businesses also recognise that a well-rounded workforce will be crucial to driving innovation in the long-term. Key social imperatives around the diversity and well-being of talent received a high priority on this year’s agenda. Not to mention the local leader’s growing commitment to becoming the world-leading low-carbon and high-growth economy.

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Key findings

Coco Liu

Chief Regional Officer, Asia Pacific & Head of Global Business Channels

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A strong year for Australian IPOs after initial market shock

2021 IPO Watch Australia summary of findings

29 January 2021

Despite the widespread economic impact of COVID-19, the Australian IPO market rebounded strongly in the second half of 2020 with a resurgence in market listings. This was one of the key findings from HLB Mann Judd’s annual IPO Watch Australia Report.

The report analyses IPO activity over the past 12 months on a number of key metrics, including listing volumes, share price performance, industry spread and overall trends, as well as a review of the pipeline for 2021.

In 2020, there were 74 new listings on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), which was an increase of 12 on the year prior. Most interestingly, 62 of the 74 listings occurred in the second half of the year. The strong end to 2020 reflects the resilience of Australia’s economy amid particularly tough business conditions.

In early 2020, the Australian Federal Government adopted a mass suppression strategy to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 virus. The country’s geographic isolation, combined with a AUD17.6 billion economic support package, strict quarantine system and high test rates per capita, has resulted in comparatively low infection and death rates. Australia is in a strong position as the country prepares to roll out its vaccination program from February 2021.

However, in the first half of 2020, Australia was not immune to the unique set of circumstances and significant market volatility which saw historically low volumes of listings. In the first half of 2020 only 12 companies listed on the ASX. However, by September, there were signs of improvement, which was arguably reflected in Australia’s broader economic position. The December quarter then experienced a resurgence in activity with volumes and funds raised being the highest in a single quarter since 2010.

Australia’s listing volumes trended alongside the global activity which saw some of the highest IPO capital raising activity in the last decade, particularly from the US and China domestic markets. In the US there were several high profile listings including Airbnb, Palantir, Snowflake and DoorDash.

While many businesses and markets globally have been impacted by the pandemic, some sectors flourished during the year. Companies in the e-commerce, technology, pharmaceuticals, food delivery and technology services sectors performed well upon listing.

In Australia, listings from the retailing sector accounted for 13 per cent of total funds raised across IPOs in 2020, well up its contribution in previous years. Australian consumer activity also mirrored the global shift to online shopping as consumers avoided bricks and mortar retail outlets during the crisis.

Other notable ASX listings during the year from businesses that experienced growth during the pandemic included Youfoodz Holdings Limited (ASX:YFZ), a producer of ready-made meals and Aussie Broadband Limited (ASX:ABB), an internet provider, which have achieved post listing valuations above company expectations.

Despite uncertainty in the global markets, with several macro-environment trends at play, a number of high profile companies have reported their intention to capitalise on the IPO boom.

Australia’s strong end to the year also looks set to continue throughout 2021, with a healthy pipeline of new market entrants scheduled to list. At the end of 2020, 14 companies had applied for listing, representing a small increase on the comparable period last year.

 

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About IPO Watch Australia

HLB’s IPO Watch Australia is authored by Marcus Ohm, a Corporate and Audit Services Partner based in Perth. The report provides a detailed summary of IPO activity within Australia for the year and analysis on key aspects of the market including:

  • Share price performance
  • Sector analysis
  • IPO subscription rates
  • Review of activity by quarter
  • The road ahead for the year

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Achieving the post-pandemic vision:

leaner, greener and keener

HLB Survey of Business Leaders 2021

expect global economic growth to decline 54% cite COVID-19 as top concern 81% remain confident in own ability to grow 76% see opportunity to profit in low-carbon economy 77%

A crisis that made us think

Pivotal, disruptive, re-defining, unprecedented: The global Coronavirus outbreak and its economic implications will make 2020 go down in history as a year of crisis. Operating remotely under lockdown and physical distancing restrictions, business leaders had to chart new strategic priorities, balance a multitude of risks, and find ways to deploy the ‘human touch’ into their now digital-first brand and wider operations.

As we enter 2021, pessimism around the state of the global economy is gradually being replaced with a staunch commitment to finding new opportunities for growth. Over three-quarters of leaders we surveyed for this year’s report feel optimistic about their ability to grow in the new economic cycle.

For many companies, COVID-19 and its implications served as a strong prerequisite for questioning how their actions shape consumer perception of their brand, and what practices could better position them for future success. From new product launches and increased pace of digitisation, to workforce transformations and accelerated commitment to a greener and leaner production, business leaders are actively planning to achieve their post-pandemic vision.

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Key findings

Lesley Hornung

Head of Marketing & Digital

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HLB Cybersecurity Report 2020

IT PROFESSIONALS SURVEYED 76 WERE NOT PREPARED FOR A REMOTE WORKFORCE 58% MADE CHANGES TO CYBERSECURITY PROTOCOLS 88% SAW INCREASE IN SUSPICIOUS CYBER ACTIVITY THAT COULD LEAD TO A BREACH 53%

Navigating the cyber-risk landscape in the age of remote working

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many organisations across the globe to adopt remote working and digital processes with record speed. In doing so, CTOs and IT management faced increased vulnerabilities allowing for cyber-attacks and data breaches to take place more easily. Overnight, organisations went from controlled office environments to diverse home worksites. Continuing business, while securing multiple virtual environments, proved to be a challenge. But remote working is here to stay, so enterprises must adjust and overcome security hurdles.

In light of Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2020, we surveyed 76 IT professionals about their perceptions on information security and data protection in today’s complex digital environment. We also spoke with HLB cybersecurity experts about today’s cyber-risk landscape, the lessons learned from lockdown and the road ahead for CTOs to protect against cyber-crime in the age of remote working.

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Unconscious Bias Awareness Study

Unconscious bias, binding the business success

The extent to which unconscious bias has an impact on our society and the professional services industry is hard to capture in full since the very nature of the problem is evasive and unintentionally cultivated for years. What can be attested with certainty is that a consequence of biased behaviours is an industry lacking diversity, particularly at higher organisational levels. Furthermore, unconscious biases constrains the career progression for certain groups of professionals and is becoming a bottleneck to diverse hiring. All of these practices gradually, but inevitably, erode a firms’ success.

At HLB we believe that it is our duty as professionals to analyse the as-is state of any matter and advise on the best steps towards the desired to-be state.  In this report, we look objectively into the current practices and identify where and why bias overtakes objectivity and what can be done to address and resolve unconscious bias within the professional services industry.

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Whatever your question our global team will point you in the right direction

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Post-Pandemic Readiness:

Five strategic priorities to succeed in the new world

The post-pandemic world arises

To increase your post-pandemic readiness and succeed in the new world, we have identified five strategic priorities to unlock business transformation: Digital acceleration, Workforce transformation, Consumer acumen, Cost management, and Supply chain reinvention.

As we head down a path of uncertainty, the risk of sitting tight and not investing in transformation will decrease company growth or possibly result in lost market share. To maintain competitive in the new world, business leaders must adopt greater agility to anticipate change and mitigate its impact. To drive sustainable change in the organisation and re-write the manual, tough questions need to be asked within boardrooms. This report helps you identify the strategic priosities to focus on and the actions to take.

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Five strategic priorities to increase post-pandemic readiness

Jim Bourke

Global Advisory Leader

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The Execution Challenge for a New Decade

HLB Inaugural Survey of Business Leaders

expect global economic growth to decline 46% cite economic uncertainty as top concern 68% confident in own ability to grow 87% see changes in trade agreements create opportunity 49%

Reasons to be confident, reasons to be wary

At the dawn of a new decade, we find half of the business leaders we surveyed pessimistic about the global economy, with factors including access to talent, regulatory chance and economic uncertainty topping their list of concerns. At the same time, business leaders seem strikingly confident about their own ability to grow their business.

In a time where political, economic, social and technological change is happening at accelerating speed, we found that business leaders understand the make-up of the successful business models of the future. However, are they doing enough to execute for the change that is needed to thrive in the 2020’s or is their speed of adaptation too slow?

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Key Findings

Lesley Hornung

Head of Marketing & Digital

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