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Canadian CEOs are very optimistic

Despite a variety of Delta issues holding back the long-awaited return to normalcy, Canadian CEOs are among the most optimistic in the world about the country's economic growth, according to KPMG's Global CEO Outlook report.

Eighty-nine per cent of Canadians surveyed are optimistic about economic growth over the next three years. This is a 10-point increase from pre-pandemic levels and represents the highest score among CEOs surveyed in 11 major countries, including China, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Only Australian CEOs show a similar score (88%).

"While we have seen some softening in economic data recently, Canadian CEOs are confident that the investments they have made to increase their digital capabilities position them well for future growth," says Elio Luongo, CEO and senior partner of KPMG in Canada.

"Making these strategic investments under unprecedented challenging conditions will allow their organization to capitalize on pent-up consumer demand as Canada moves through and emerges from the pandemic," he adds.

There has also been a marked increase in their enthusiasm compared to the same time last year. Less than half (48%) were optimistic about the national economic outlook for the next three years in July-August 2020.

While Canadian business leaders are enthusiastic about their country's economy, they are less so about the global economy. Their confidence in the global economy has not returned to pre-pandemic levels (55% versus 72% in January 2020).

As for their own business growth, Canadian CEOs are largely confident (86%), although their confidence has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels (96% and 93% in 2018 and 2019, respectively).

About 40% believe their annual revenue growth over the next three years will be in the range of 2.5% to 4.99%. Another 48% estimate that revenue growth will be less than 2.5% annually.

"How they adopt and implement their digital transformation strategies, not only to grow, but also to protect their current market share, will be critical to achieving their growth projections," says Stephanie Terrill, partner and leader of KPMG's Consulting Services - Management group in Canada.

Concerned about disruptive technologies

In terms of perceived risks, "Canadian CEOs now rank disruptive technologies as the top risk to future growth, displacing climate change," reports Stephanie Terrill.

Canadian respondents see technology disruption more as an opportunity than a threat compared to their peers around the world. The vast majority (91%) feel this way compared to 76% of business leaders globally. This is because 86% say they are actively disrupting their industry rather than waiting for disruption to come from the competition, compared to 72% globally.

However, 83% of Canadian respondents said they "need to reallocate their investments faster to seize digital opportunities and divest from operations rendered obsolete in the digital world," compared to 78% globally.

About one-third (31%) are leveraging their company's digitization and connectivity to drive growth, and 68% are investing more of their capital in new technology purchases.

While CEOs around the world are concerned about potential supply chain disruptions, Canadians are less concerned about this risk. They rank this risk ninth, which could create challenges in the future.

As for work itself, only 20% of Canadian CEOs now say they plan to reduce or have already reduced the size of their organization's office space. This is a significant drop from the 60% who were considering this during the pandemic.

However, 40% are considering shared office space and a third are planning to hire talent to work primarily remotely. This is a small proportion when compared to 51% and 42% respectively globally.


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