Confidence in economic growth tumbles among Ireland’s CEOs

But business chiefs here remain more confident than global counterparts

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

The level of confidence held by Irish chief executives in growth prospects has tumbled since the pandemic began, a new survey has shown.

But business chiefs here were more optimistic than their global counterparts, and had a different outlook on the threats to business in the wake of the pandemic.

The global 2020 KPMG CEO Outlook showed only 56 per cent of Irish business leaders were confident the economy would grow in the next three years, down from 92 per cent in January. That compares with a third of global chief executives who were confident about global growth over the same period, down from 68 per cent at the start of the year.

Irish chief executives are concerned more with the threat posed by interest rates and cyber attacks, compared with global CEOs, who are more concerned with talent risks.

The survey also showed the changing agenda of business leaders, with 80 per cent of chief executives here focusing on how to lock-in the learnings from the crisis, particularly around environmental, social and governance issues, and 84 per cent are rethinking work and talent.

“CEO priorities have changed significantly in the past 6 months to deal with the challenges of the pandemic. Managing uncertainty has required decisive leadership to accelerate strategies that were already in place around digitisation, social responsibility and sustainability,” said Seamus Hand, managing partner of KPMG in Ireland. “Ireland’s CEOs are now leading their teams in new and different ways and very often remotely. In many cases, they are coping with both the immediate challenge of keeping their business viable, while using intuition and experience to help make strategic decisions to be ready for the recovery and the new reality.”

Forty per cent of chief executives in Ireland have personally experienced the impact of Covid-19, either through their own health or that of their family.

The research said 60 per cent indicated it had affected their strategic response to the pandemic. More than three quarters of Irish executives said they had seen their compensation reduced due to the pandemic, compared to 63 per cent of global CEOs.

The survey also found the use of technology had accelerated due to the pandemic, with accompanying benefits such as a wider pool of talent thanks to the remote working. Some 81 per cent of Irish business leaders have seen the digital transformation of their businesses accelerating during the pandemic, with digitisation of operations and the creation of a seamless digital customer experience among the focus points.