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Global Zurich Insurance study of business sentiment shows highest optimism in U.S.

SCHAUMBURG, IL, November 10, 2015

U.S. C-suites say competition and a lack of consumer demand are top concerns 

SCHAUMBURG, IL, November 11, 2015 – Top executives of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the United States are among the most optimistic about future business opportunities compared to the rest of the world, according to Zurich Insurance Group’s (Zurich) Third Annual Global SME Survey.

The U.S. was included in the study for the first time this year, which surveyed 3,000 C-suite executives and managers at SMEs across 15 countries including Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Respondents were polled on the biggest opportunities and risks facing their businesses in today’s economy.

The outlook of U.S. SMEs was most optimistic – the response “I don’t foresee any opportunities for my business at present” ranked last out of eleven potential opportunities posed, and received fewer responses (5.5 percent) than any other region. “Cost and expense reduction” was ranked highest (39.5 percent), followed by “new customer segments” (28 percent), “new sales channels” (25 percent) and “expansion to foreign markets” (16 percent). In other parts of the world, “diversification of product range or services” (Asia-Pacific) and “cost and expense reduction” (Europe) ranked highest.

From a risk standpoint, SMEs in the U.S. identified their top concerns to be “high competition” (35 percent) and “a lack of consumer demand” (30.5 percent), on par with the rest of the world. Despite this correlation, of the fourteen potential business risks surveyed, the U.S. ranked “technological vulnerabilities” (15 percent) and “cybercrime” (13 percent) highest of all the regions. “Given that U.S. SMEs view new sales channels, such as online trading, as one of the key opportunities for growth, it stands to reason that they would weigh tech and cyber-related concerns more heavily than other regions,” said Craig Fundum, President of Commercial Markets at Zurich Insurance. By comparison, Asia-Pacific rated natural catastrophes and unpredictable weather as a key business risk and in Latin America, fire was cited as a top concern. 

This is the third year Zurich has surveyed SMEs from around the world. “The findings from this important Zurich survey were especially compelling this year, as the U.S. was included for the first time,” remarked Fundum. “We’re seeing a definitive level of optimism from American business leaders who are embracing innovation and new frontiers, yet remain cautious in a changing technology landscape. These deep insights into what’s keeping U.S. small and medium-sized businesses up at night are invaluable for Zurich and the insurance industry, and help us to better protect them from potential risks.”

To view the survey results:


Methodology

The sample structure of Zurich Insurance Group’s Third Annual Global SME Survey included 200 interviews per country. Interviews were conducted over the phone and lasted an average of six minutes. The target group of the survey included CEOs, CFOs and COOs of businesses ranging in size from 0 to 250 full-time employees. Countries participating in the survey included: Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, USA, Morocco, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

About Zurich

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. With more than 55,000 employees, it provides a wide range of general insurance and life insurance products and services. Zurich’s customers include individuals, small businesses, and mid-sized and large companies, including multinational corporations, in more than 170 countries. The Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1872. The holding company, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN), is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) program, which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information about Zurich is available at www.zurich.com.

In North America, Zurich is a leading commercial property-casualty insurance provider serving the global corporate, large corporate, middle market, specialties and programs sectors through the individual member companies of Zurich in North America, including Zurich American Insurance Company. Life insurance and disability coverage issued in the United States in all states except New York is issued by Zurich American Life Insurance Company, an Illinois domestic life insurance company. In New York, life insurance and disability coverage is issued by Zurich American Life Insurance Company of New York, a New York domestic life insurance company. For more information about the products and services it offers and people Zurich employs around the world go to www.zurichna.com. 2012 marked Zurich's 100-year anniversary of insuring America and the success of its customers, shareholders and employees.