According to KPMG’s CEO Outlook 2021, the CEOs of the largest corporations in Switzerland and around the world are optimistic about the future. Although the Delta variant is slowing down the return to normalcy, executives’ confidence in the global economy has returned to pre-pandemic levels. They view cyber risks, supply chain risks and climate risks as the biggest threats to business growth.
Inorganic growth as the key to success
60 percent of executives are confident about the growth prospects of the global economy over the next three years.
- 69 percent of senior management are focusing on inorganic growth strategies such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as well as strategic alliances.
- 24 percent of CEOs at the global level indicated that mergers and acquisitions will be their most important pillar for business growth in the next three years. This view was held by merely 12 percent of executives at Swiss companies,
- CEOs of Swiss companies which will be focusing more strongly on joint ventures: 24 percent of Swiss executives named joint ventures as their most important growth strategy compared with just 11 percent of CEOs worldwide.
Supply chain harbors biggest growth risks
Global executives identified cyber security, supply chain and climate change risks (each cited by 12 percent) as the top risks jeopardizing growth. These are attributed even greater importance by CEOs in Switzerland.
- 24% of executives indicated that risks in the supply chain pose the biggest threat to business growth, followed by cyber security risks (cited by 20 percent) as well as climate change and regulatory risks (16 percent each).
- 76 percent of CEOs in Switzerland indicating that their supply chain had been under more pressure over the past 18 months compared to just 56 percent globally.
- CEOs overwhelmingly consider the disruptive potential of new technologies as more of an opportunity than a threat (76 percent agree). This holds particularly true with respect to the CEOs of Swiss companies: 96 percent view technological disruption as an opportunity for their own company.
Greater need for information on ESG issues
Addressing social and environmental issues that extend beyond their own core business has become increasingly pivotal to companies’ success.
- 58 percent of CEOs worldwide rate the public’s need for information regarding ESG issues as high to very high compared with 68 percent of the CEOs of Swiss companies.
- While CEOs worldwide mainly feel that this development is being driven by institutional investors, CEOs in Switzerland view the regulator as the driving force.
- Only 5 percent of respondents indicated that they are not investing any funds in programs of this nature.
In its annual CEO Outlook, KPMG examines the outlook of chief executives on a variety of topics such as growth, sustainability and digitalization. In 2021, it surveyed 1,325 CEOs of companies around the world with more than USD 500 million in revenue. Twenty-five CEOs of Swiss companies also took part in the survey.