CEO Confidence At Pre-Pandemic Level

02 Sep 2021 | 08.14 am

CEO Confidence At Pre-Pandemic Level

Business confidence is back on track, says KPMG survey

02 Sep 2021 | 08.14 am

Confidence levels among Irish chief executives have returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest ‘CEO Outlook’ survey from KPMG.

The survey concludes that a mood of “cautious optimism” prevails in 2021, similar to levels measured in 2019. Thre out four CEOs polled are optimistic about growth prospects for their firms, compared to 56% in 2020, with most highlighting that strategies such as joint ventures, M&A, and strategic alliances are the main post-pandemic levers for increased levels of growth, rather than organic, market-based expansion.

The vast majority are confident in the future success of their organisation, but they are cautious in relation to revenue growth, with 56% projecting modest three-year growth of up to 2.5% and just over a third, at 36%, expecting growth between 2.5% and 5% growth.

KPMG managing partner Seamus Hand (pictured) comnmented: “We have experienced this optimism in the market supporting our clients as the economy returns to more normal patterns and consumer sentiment improves, while significant capital remains available to be invested.

“CEOs in Ireland are seeing opportunities and are actively looking at growth strategies to help them get ahead of the competition. However, they are acutely aware of managing risk and getting it right on issues such as the future of work, cybersecurity, disruptive technology and supply chain issues will be critical if they are to deliver on their growth ambitions.”

On the picture of the future of work painted by the survey, he added: “The office is here to stay as the focal point for the vast majority of companies. However, Irish business leaders increasingly recognise the need for greater flexibility and a strong organisational culture, given the changing nature of talent acquisition and retention.

“Transformation of operating models will enable employers of the future to expand their reach into a wider pool of talent.”

While two thirds of respondents said that most employees in their organisation will be working remotely for two or more days a week — compared to just 37% globally — only one in four plan to downsize or have already downsized their physical footprint or office space as a result of the pandemic and changing working habits, a significant decline from 88% in 2020. 

Investors, regulators, and customers want increased reporting and transparency on environmental, social and governance issues, according to 80% of chief executives, again a higher proportion than the global figure of 58%, and especially in relation to the climate crisis.

Among Irish business leaders, 84% say they are focused on locking in their sustainability and climate change gains made during the pandemic, while four fifths say government stimulus will be required to turbocharge their goals of reaching net zero.

Hand added: “Business transformation is moving with pace to deliver on climate action plans and our Sustainable Futures teams are experiencing high demand for support  helping companies in every sector pivot to a low carbon or net zero future.”

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