Our latest leaders’ survey reveals top worries of Canadian executives.

October 11, 2011

Shrinking Margins, High Dollar and Attracting Talent Top List of Worries for Canadian Business Leaders

Miller Thomson LLP survey reveals Canadian executives are looking to customers
not governments for answers

TORONTO, October 11, 2011 –When asked what issues are most likely to keep them up
at night, Canadian business leaders rank profitability, a high Canadian dollar
and attracting talent at the top of their list of worries, according to a new
national survey conducted by business law firm Miller Thomson LLP.  The
vast majority of Canadian executives also say they look to customers when
making business decisions, believing that federal and provincial governments
are only marginally capable of solving the country’s most pressing issues.

“What we are hearing from
Canadian business leaders is that external economic forces are clearly taking a
toll on corporate bottom lines,” said Gerald Courage, Chair, Miller Thomson
LLP. “There is no doubt that a high Canadian dollar has been a major factor, so
it is reassuring to see some recent relief in this area.”

The survey, conducted in the second half of August, polled 200 senior
business executives from a broad spectrum of the Canadian economy, including
manufacturing, financial services, retail, forestry, agriculture and mining.
Respondents were asked to share the issues that most concern them, who has the
most impact on their business decisions, and how much confidence they have
in federal and provincial governments to address their concerns. The Miller
Thomson survey is the second time in less than a year that the firm has reached
out to Canadian executives to measure their point of view on current business

“This is the second time in less than a year that we have reached out to
Canadian executives to measure their progress and point of view during this
very volatile economic period,” said Courage. “The evolving picture is of
anti-protectionist, independent-minded business leadership that is listening
carefully to the market, rather than looking to government to solve their

The national survey also polled business
executives on which areas they would likely turn to for legal advice. A majority (73 per cent) identified labour and
employment law as the area in which they are most likely to need legal advice
over the next 12 months.

are labour and employment implications in virtually every area of business, from mergers and
acquisitions, to downsizing, outsourcing, joint ventures
and partnerships, so it’s not surprising that it ranked as it did among
business executives,” said Gita Anand, Partner at Miller Thomson and Co-Chair
of the firm’s Labour and Employment Group. “Canada’s increasingly diverse and
specialized workforce has also put pressure on businesses as they try to attract and retain good talent.”

In the first half of 2011, Miller Thomson participated in 19 equity
financings, placing them at the top of Canadian law firms in terms of deal
flow. Miller Thomson’s Mergers and Acquisitions work earned the firm fourth
place by deal value, and fifth for deal volume among all Canadian law firms by
Thomson Reuters. The firm also achieved top ranking as one of only two Canadian
law firms to appear in FactSet’s top 50.

and acquisitions and tax law ranked top among the areas respondents are most
likely to turn for legal advice in the next 12 months (57 and 56 per cent
respectively). This was followed by litigation (55 per cent), intellectual
property protection (33 per cent), succession planning (31 per cent), and
environmental law (28 per cent).

“Miller Thomson has seen a strong 12 months of M&A activity, but a
substantial amount of market uncertainty has developed over the past couple of
months. This tends to have a chilling effect on new deal activity as buyers are
more selective in their targets,” said
Jay Hoffman, Partner and Chair of Miller Thomson’s National Securities, Capital
Markets and Mergers and Acquisitions Group. “It is very encouraging to see
that, despite current economic uncertainty, more than half the executives we
polled expect to seek legal advice on M&As over the next 12 months.”

Miller Thomson’s national
survey was conducted exclusively for Miller Thomson LLP by Research House. A sample
of 200 senior and C-level executives were surveyed (157 males and 43 females).
With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ± 6.9
percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The largest number of respondents come
from Manufacturing and Construction (30 per cent), followed by Services (23 per
cent); Retail and Wholesale Trade (14 per cent); Transportation,
Communications, Technology and Utilities (13 per cent); Finance; Insurance and
Real Estate (10 per cent); Mining, Oil and Gas, Exploration (7 per cent);
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (3 per cent); and Education, Health and
Public Administration (1 per cent).

For details, please refer
to the survey highlights below.

About Miller Thomson

Miller Thomson LLP is a
national business law firm with more than 470 lawyers working from 11 offices
across Canada. The firm offers a complete range of business law, advocacy and
personal legal services. Miller Thomson works regularly with in-house legal
departments and external counsel world-wide to facilitate cross-border and
multinational transactions and business needs. Miller Thomson offices are
located in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, London,
Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Toronto, Markham and Montréal.


For more information:

Alex Mangiola
Pilot PMR
416-462-0199 ext. 21


Click here to view the Regional Results

Business issues:

  • Shrinking margins was ranked the top issue of concern
    among Canadian business leaders (42 per cent), followed by an inability to
    attract talent (22 per cent)
  • The majority of executives (70 per
    cent) identified their customers as having the most impact on their business
    decisions, well ahead of competitors (13 per cent), government regulation (7
    per cent), and government policy (4 per cent)

National issues:

  • A high Canadian dollar was ranked the top issue of
    concern among Canadian business leaders (31 per cent), followed by financing an aging population (20 per
    cent), and Canada’s national debt (14 per cent)
  • The
    majority of executives (77 per cent) have limited confidence that Canadian
    federal and provincial governments are equipped to solve these issues

Legal advice:

  • Labour
    and employment law was ranked as the top area business leaders expect to turn
    to for legal advice in the next 12 months (73 per cent)
  • This was
    followed by mergers and acquisitions (57 per cent), tax law (56 per cent), litigation
    (55 per cent), intellectual property protection (33 per cent), succession
    planning (31 per cent), and environmental law (28 per cent)
  • Business
    executives in Canada’s mining, oil and gas, and exploration industries,
    finance, insurance and real estate industries were most likely to turn to legal
    advice for mergers and acquisitions over the next 12 months (both at 79 per