Business Leaders Are Embracing Private Equity Partners, Citizens Survey Finds

Positive perception of sponsors could support dealmaking in the year ahead

Private equity entered 2024 ready to shop, and a study released today by Citizens reveals many business leaders may be open to making a deal.

Nearly three quarters (72%) of small- and mid-size businesses in the U.S. view the private equity industry as a source of current or future partnership and funding, according to the survey. This data comes on the heels of Citizens’ 2024 M&A outlook, which found that sponsors anticipate higher deal volumes in 2024 and expect to buy more than they did in 2023.

“With $2.5 trillion of private equity dry powder on the sidelines, elevated buyer enthusiasm and a positive perception of sponsors should support a constructive environment for dealmaking,” said Don McCree, vice chair and head of commercial banking, Citizens. “At Citizens, our advisors partner with corporate and PE clients every day to find solutions and execute transactions. We are working closely with our clients to help them navigate and take advantage of the evolving deal landscape.”

The Citizens survey of more than 530 decision makers at small- and mid-size businesses in the U.S. was conducted in early 2024 and focused on business leaders’ outlook for economic conditions and assessment of key business inputs in the year ahead. Other key findings include:

  1. Small and mid-size businesses are ready to hire in 2024. Sixty-one percent of decision makers at small- and mid-size businesses expect their companies to add talent in 2024, and 40 percent anticipate hiring more personnel than they did last year. Consistent with the findings of the latest Citizens Business Conditions Index™, the robust demand for labor indicates business conditions remain constructive despite lingering anxiety about rising costs. Forty-five percent of respondents expect to be more concerned about the impact of inflation on their business in the year ahead, while just 13 percent expect to be less concerned.
  2. Despite uncertainty, business leaders are not overly concerned about political instability. While political uncertainty is typically perceived as a headwind for businesses, only 9 percent of respondents expect the 2024 U.S. election cycle to have a negative impact on their company’s growth plans in the year ahead. In fact, 64 percent of respondents actually expect the election cycle to have a positive impact on business growth in 2024.
  3. Geopolitical tensions are also not considered a major risk. Despite heightened geopolitical tensions across the globe, fewer than 40 percent of respondents expect geopolitical issues to pose a serious threat to their company’s financial performance in 2024.
  4. However, business leaders remain worried about supply chain disruptions. Concerns about supply chain disruptions persist. Thirty-eight percent of decision-makers are more concerned about the impact of supply chain disruptions in 2024 than they were last year, while 51 percent are similarly concerned, and just 11 percent are less concerned.
  5. Artificial intelligence is expected to be among the most impactful technologies for business in 2024. Decision makers at small- and mid-size companies expect AI to be among the most impactful technologies for business in the year ahead. These findings are consistent with insights gleaned from a recent Citizens study that assessed AI trends in financial management.

“We view private equity as a growing client base,” said McCree. “Our teams have deep relationships with corporate clients as well as private sources of capital, which are a key part of the financial system. Over the last several years, we have expanded our capabilities, particularly in Capital Markets and Advisory and Wealth Management, so we can offer a range of solutions to our clients.”


Business leaders at 538 small and mid-size U.S. businesses who are directly involved in corporate decision-making completed a web-based survey in January 2024.

Citizens is a trusted strategic and financial adviser, consistently delivering clear and objective advice. The Citizens approach puts clients first by offering great ideas combined with thorough market knowledge and excellent execution, to help our clients enhance their business and reach their potential. For more information, please visit the Citizens website.

About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $222.0 billion in assets as of December 31, 2023. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. Citizens helps its customers reach their potential by listening to them and by understanding their needs in order to offer tailored advice, ideas and solutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens provides an integrated experience that includes mobile and online banking, a full-service customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,200 ATMs and approximately 1,100 branches in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Consumer Banking products and services include a full range of banking, lending, savings, wealth management and small business offerings. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers a broad complement of financial products and solutions, including lending and leasing, deposit and treasury management services, foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management solutions, as well as loan syndication, corporate finance, merger and acquisition, and debt and equity capital markets capabilities. More information is available at or visit us on X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn or Facebook.


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