Canadian CEOs more confident in company growth than global execs

The pandemic has had less of an impact on CEO confidence in Canada, finds KPMG.
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While the economic concerns tied to the COVID-19 pandemic persist at home and abroad, Canadian CEOs are significantly more confident in their companies’ future growth than other global chief executives, finds a new KPMG survey.

Every year, the consultancy runs a global CEO Outlook survey to gauge CEO confidence in the growth of their organizations and industries. This year, it conducted a secondary “pulse check” survey in July and August to measure the impacts the health crisis has had on the executives’ optimism since January.

The research uncovered that only 12% of Canadian CEOs are less confident now than in January, compared to 29% globally. Moreover, 40% remain as confident as they did pre-pandemic, versus only a quarter of global CEOs.

Overall, 48% of Canadian CEOs were modestly or much more optimistic about domestic economic growth in July and August (versus 45% globally), down from 76% in January. At that time, global CEOs were slightly more confident than those in this country, at 77%.

According to the follow-up survey, 84% of Canadian chief executives are optimistic about the growth prospects of their own companies – a lot more than the 67% of global respondents. Only slightly more have a positive outlook about the growth of their industry (56% versus 55% globally) and of their country (48% versus 45% globally).

While many business leaders remain concerned about the country’s economic recovery, among Canadian leaders, the greatest threats to future growth are territorialism and climate risks, according to KPMG. Emerging technologies and cyberattacks also ranked as top threats.

Meanwhile, the challenges associated with talent jumped several spots to become the third-largest threat to growth among Canadian CEOs – but concerns over losing employees or not being able to hire new talent are even stronger in other markets, with global executives identifying it as the biggest risk above all else.

According to KPMG, the pandemic has “put the spotlight squarely on the importance of technology to drive future growth and strengthen overall enterprise resilience to crises.” Seventy-six percent of Canadian CEOs believe investing in new tech, such as artificial intelligence and automation, is critical to achieving long-term sustainable growth, compared to 72% of execs globally. However, only 16% of Canadian leaders believe they have made progress on digitizing their operations, compared to 30% globally.

KPMG’s January outlook included 75 Canadian respondents of the 1,300 global CEOs surveyed. The pulse check survey included responses from 315 CEOs around the world, including Canada.