Survey: Growth-oriented companies embrace reinvention, customers, risk

CHICAGO —- A Grant Thornton LLP survey of more than 1,000 U.S. business executives reveals the strategic priorities and approaches to growth of leading companies.

The report finds “leader” companies – those with sustained earnings and revenue growth – are making bold decisions to reinvent themselves. By comparison, “follower” companies – those with flat earnings and revenues – are not prioritizing the same activities to position themselves to compete in the future.

According to the survey, part of Grant Thornton’s ReportFuture of Growth and Industry , nearly four-fifths (79 percent) of “leader” companies prioritize developing products or services that allow them to move into a new sector. By comparison, roughly one-third (35 percent) of “follower” companies do the same.

A similar dichotomy can be seen when it comes to risk – with more than two-thirds (69 percent) of “leader” companies placing a high priority on balancing risk and opportunity, whereas well under half (42 percent) of “follower” companies take the same approach.

In addition, 72 percent of “leader” companies are laser-focused on strengthening relationships with their strategic customers.

“Building deeper relationships through a world-class customer experience is a top priority for leading companies. And understanding the upside value of risk – and recognizing when risk-taking is appropriate – is a challenge for many organizations, as they grapple with ever-changing customer needs and the emergence of new competitors and technologies,” said Nichole Jordan, national managing partner of Markets, Clients and Industry for Grant Thornton LLP. “But our study indicates that growing companies see disruption as something to be exploited – and they are supported by risk leaders who expand their department’s role beyond compliance.”

Other key findings include: 
  • Expansion into new geographic markets is another area where “leaders” and “followers” diverge: 66 percent and 23 percent, respectively, consider it a high priority. In fact, almost three-quarters (72 percent) of “leader” companies report that they will attempt to acquire a non-U.S. company in the next three years, compared with under half (44 percent) of “follower” companies.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of “leader” companies plan to use automation to improve process efficiency, compared with just 48 percent of “follower” companies.

Grant Thornton’s Future of Growth and Industry Report will be followed in the coming weeks by eight sector-level reports examining trends shaping manufacturing, technology, banking, life sciences, private equity, asset management, exploration and production and real estate.

About the survey
On behalf of Grant Thornton, Longitude Research surveyed 1,092 senior leaders of U.S. companies, including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CIOs, and chief risk or compliance officers, to understand their key growth, transformation, and risk management priorities over the three-year period to 2020. The research focused on three core U.S. sectors – information technology, manufacturing and banking. The survey was supplemented by in-depth interviews with a range of U.S. business leaders as well as Grant Thornton professionals.

About Grant Thornton LLP
Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton, which has revenues in excess of $1.6 billion and operates 59 offices, works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions.

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