Dive deeper into our proprietary survey, which helped guide the research in the award-winning whitepaper* The Future Means Business, to learn what more than 300 business executives from around the world have to say about the inner motivations and future aspirations of transformative new corporate models.
* Source: Savvy Investor - Best Investment Paper for 2019



  1. Companies all around the world are prioritizing intangible assets and creating more flexible business models, especially in China.

  2. Firms that embrace intangible assets also tend to have a larger share of variable costs. This allows them to be more responsive in the event of a downturn.

  3. As fewer firms dominate markets globally, larger firms are investing more heavily in intangible assets and leveraging the benefits.

  4. The trend towards intangible assets is not limited to startups in Silicon Valley. Manufacturing firms are increasingly investing in intangible assets such as databases and design.

  5. Nearly 40% of companies surveyed globally are adopting a "profit with purpose" mindset.

  6. Firms hold themselves accountable to a range of stakeholders beyond shareholders. These differ depending on firm size and location.


Intangible assets, flexible real estate, and the gig economy have led to the emergence of what we call “the weightless firm.”



Companies are increasingly emphasizing intangible assets.

“We spend more now on research & development and data-driven decisions than we’ve ever spent.”
– C-suite, Leisure & Entertainment Co., Germany



Intangible firms are more likely to have a higher share of variable costs.

“We are moving towards a culture, supported by an automated system, that enables us to be the most service-focused company in the marketplace.”
- C-suite, Manufacturing Co., Germany



In a winner-takes-all world, larger companies are embracing weightlessness more rapidly than smaller ones.

“Tangible assets will become more of a commodity that you rent.”

– C-suite, Technology Co., China



The weightless firm is not limited to new-economy, tech startups.

“Automation can mean that you need fewer staff, but it can also mean that people are moved away from routine work and can do higher-value work.”
– C-suite, Software Co., China



Purpose is being adopted by a growing number of companies.



Increasingly, firms are adopting a "profit with purpose" mindset.

“We have been embracing and implementing ESG because of our internal values and not in response to media or societal pressure.”
– C-suite, Real Estate Co., USA



The move to include purpose is driven by a range of stakeholders.

“We are quite sure that we can only survive if we have a sustainable business model.”
- C-suite, Banking Co., Germany



In our latest megatrends research, The Future Means Business, we explored the investment implications of transformative new corporate models. To ensure our investment themes are grounded in actual actions and decisions of the corporate world, we conducted a groundbreaking survey of more than 300 public and private companies in the U.S., Germany and China.

Global Survey of C-suite Executives

PGIM commissioned a survey of C-suite executives with involvement in setting strategic priorities at a wide variety of businesses in the U.S., Germany and China.

Companies with $50M - $1B+ in Revenue

In June 2019, a quantitative online survey with 49 questions was conducted among 300 respondents (100 per country) from companies that had a minimum revenue of $50 million in China and $100 million in Germany and the U.S.

High-quality Data

There was one respondent per company, and results are equal-weighted unless stated otherwise.

Quantitative & Qualitative

In addition to the online survey, there were 24 qualitative interviews (8 per country) conducted by phone with respondents with similar specifications. There was no overlap between the survey and interview respondents.

Survey Population Breakdown