Canadian CEOs more confident than global peers on growth prospects

By The IJ Staff | May 23 2018 01:30PM

Canadian CEOs are far more bullish about their ability to harness technology and grow their business than their global counterparts, says KPMG's 2018 Global CEO Outlook.

The annual report surveys some 1,300 CEOs from around the world on the biggest risks facing their businesses and the strategies they are employing to address them and continue to drive growth.

"Despite much debate about the potential trade headwinds facing the country, Canadian CEOs have a positive outlook for their own businesses and our economy as a whole," says Benjie Thomas, Canadian Managing Partner, Advisory Services for KPMG in Canada. "In fact, business leaders in Canada are feeling an unprecedented level of confidence that has them aggressively ready to take on the challenges and opportunities facing their companies."

Strong earnings and profits

The study showed that Canadian CEOs are confident the Canadian economy will continue to grow (94 per cent) over the next three years and they expect their businesses to grow (96 per cent) along with it. "Canadian companies have, for the most part, enjoyed strong earnings and profits over the past few years and are looking to deploy the large pools of capital they have stored up," says Thomas. "While many will invest in organic growth, most CEOs say they are looking outside of the organization for new opportunities."

Acquisition plans

Thomas expects 2018 will see a big uptick in M&A across the globe and Canada will be no exception. "Eighty-two per cent of Canadian CEOs said they will make an acquisition over the next three years. More than a third of those expect the acquisition to have a significant impact on their overall organization, suggesting some deals will be sizable."

Rapid technological advancements

KPMG's 2018 CEO Outlook also found Canadian CEOs are focused on how to adapt to rapid technological advancements that are disrupting many industries. "Canadian companies don't just feel they are embracing disruption, they feel they are creating it," says Jonathan Kallner, KPMG in Canada's Managing Partner, Clients and Markets. "In fact, 96 per cent of Canadian CEOs say that rather than waiting to be disrupted by their competitors they are actively disrupting the sector in which they operate. It is clear that Canadian CEOs have no plans to sit back and wait for startups to reshape their industries - our leaders plan to leverage technology to be the aggressor."

Virtually all (98 per cent) are in the process of building Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their operations with nearly one-quarter (22 per cent) having already fully implemented AI in their processes and another 56 per cent using it in limited applications. "While the benefit of many of these applications is to drive costs out of the business, Canadian CEOs also see technology as key in growing their businesses," adds Kallner. "Nearly two-thirds believe that investments in Artificial Intelligence and robotics will create more jobs than they eliminate, slightly higher than the global view."

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