KPMG LLP has published its most recent international CEO outlook, wherein the firm reveals that the majority of Canadian CEOs – 80 per cent say they are confident about the growth outlook for their companies; 89 per cent were also bullish on the Canadian economy over the next three years.

The numbers are high, but still 11 and seven percentage points lower, respectively, when compared to 2022 responses. Notably, they say inflation, the high cost of living, new technologies, a tight labour market and geopolitical uncertainty all have the potential to derail future growth. Among those surveyed, 75 per cent said they believe cost of living pressures will negatively impact their organization’s prosperity over the next three years. The biggest risk to growth, however, they say is the impact of technology disrupting their company or market. Regulatory risk dropped from the top spot on the list of concerns in 2022, to the fourth spot in 2023.

“While geopolitical uncertainty moved to number two from number five among Canadian CEOs, their global counterparts now rank it as the greatest risk to growth, particularly notable given that it didn’t make the top five in the 2022 survey,” KPMG’s researchers add.

The number one concern – technology – has Canadian CEOs prioritizing more capital. Among the 775 Canadian CEOs surveyed, 57 per cent say they are investing in technology, while 43 per cent are investing in developing their workforce’s skills and capabilities. “This represents a much more balanced approach than last year when Canadian CEOs had an 80 per cent technology and 20 per cent workforce investment.” Globally, CEOs are investing heavily in generative artificial intelligence (AI), they continue, saying three quarters of Canadian CEOs have also listed the technology as their top investment priority in the medium term.

When asked about the return to in-office work, only 55 per cent in Canada now say they predict a full return to in-office work within three years. This is down notably from 75 per cent who said the same thing a year ago. Among those surveyed, 88 per cent of Canadian CEOs say they are expecting to increase their workforce within the next three years. The report also examines cyber-security impressions and environmental, social and governance concerns.