KPMG 2020 CEO Outlook

Published on 2020-09-16

COVID-19 Special Edition

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the global economy. KPMG’s annual study provides an in-depth perspective on how global CEOs' views of the future have changed as a result of the outbreak. KPMG conducted two rounds of surveys with global CEOs, with the first survey conducted in January to February at the beginning of the pandemic crisis, and then a follow-up survey in July to August.

The surveys observed that global CEOs’ risks and concerns have evolved significantly. Some CEOs of the world’s most influential companies have identified talent risk as one of the most significant challenges to growth. At the same time, the pandemic has prompted China CEOs to re-evaluate their wider societal contributions and corporate purpose. Against the backdrop of accelerating environmental, social and governance (ESG) development, agile work arrangements and digital transformation, the surveys identified significant changes in corporate leaders’ concerns.

As the world grapples with the impact of the pandemic, one-third of CEOs are less confident now about prospects for global growth in the coming 3 years, the surveys showed. Global CEOs’ confidence in the global economy has fallen, but compared to their counterparts in other countries, China CEOs have a more stable and confident outlook on the domestic economy and their businesses. 

Honson To, Chairman, KPMG China and Asia Pacific, says: “This report provides a comprehensive understanding of the impact that COVID-19 has had on executive leadership at the world’s most influential companies. We explore how their strategies have shifted and how their concerns have changed, and we gauge their outlook on the global economy. China CEOs have a more confident outlook on their domestic economy than their peers in other parts of the world. Faced with the uncertainties created by the pandemic, China’s CEOs are focusing their future planning efforts on areas such as talent risk, supply chain risk, and digital transformation of their companies.”

Raymond Ng, Head of Market Development, KPMG China, says: “China has the largest consumer market in the world. Despite the fact that demand is recovering more slowly than supply due to the pandemic, as quarantine measures are gradually reduced, we believe that the recovery of consumer demand is expected to be the spotlight of China economy in the second half of 2020, and that domestic consumption will be a major pillar in stabilising China’s economic growth. Meanwhile, China is accelerating the development of new infrastructure and the digital economy in urban clusters, further unleashing the potential of China's growing consumer market.” 

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