Canadian CEOs remain confident despite mounting challenges

17 October 2023 2 min. read
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Canadian chief executive officers remain confident in their companies and the Canadian economy despite headwinds in the form of inflation, high cost of living, disruptive tech, and geopolitical uncertainty, KPMG’s annual CEO Outlook found. The consulting firm polled 1,325 CEOs in August and September across North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

Eighty percent of Canadian CEOs are confident about the growth outlook for their company over the next three years, while 89% say the same for the Canadian economy. However, this year’s optimism is slightly more muted than in 2022, when 91% of Canadian CEOs were confident about their company and 96% were confident about the domestic economy.

"Despite some softening in the economy, Canadian CEOs remain confident about the Canadian economy and their company's growth outlook over the next three years," said Elio Luongo, CEO of KPMG Canada. "CEOs are tackling demanding, evolving, and complex challenges yet remain resilient and confident in their outlook. They are reassessing their strategic priorities and redoubling their efforts on talent management and technology while weighing the macroeconomic and geopolitical impacts on their organizations and people."

Seventy-one percent of Canadian CEOs say rising interest rates could prolong a potential recession compared to 77% of global CEOs. Canadians match their global counterparts in believing cost-of-living pressure will negatively affect their company’s prosperity in the next three years (75% and 76%, respectively).

Canadian CEOs remain confident despite mounting challenges

The biggest risk to corporate growth outlook for Canadian CEOs is the impact of technological disruption, up from second place in 2022. Geopolitics and political uncertainty moved to second place from fifth place in 2022.

Globally, geopolitics was the top risk to growth, followed by technological disruption.

The survey took place before the renewed conflict in Gaza, but during the continuing Russo-Ukrainian war and increasing tensions between the US and China.

Canadian CEOs' top operational priority to deliver growth is attracting and retaining top talent, followed by advancing digitization and connectivity of operations. For global CEOs, digitization was the top pick followed by attracting and retaining talent.

CEOs worldwide are investing heavily in generative AI – making it their top investment priority – with most expecting to see ROI in three to five years. Seventy-five percent Canadian CEOs listed GenAI as their top investment priority in the medium term, compared to 70% of global CEOs.