Finding opportunity in uncertainty

Welcome to our seventh annual KPMG CEO Outlook

We're pleased to share with you our 2022 KPMG CEO Outlook. It looks at the strategic priorities identified by business leaders in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and around the world as they navigate an ever-evolving business landscape.

At home and abroad, CEOs have been tested by significant challenges in quick succession — a global pandemic, inflationary pressures and geopolitical tensions.

The global economy is currently facing significant headwinds and many businesses are having to adapt quickly to manage the impact of this. While Northern Ireland is not immune to these challenges, it is clear from the results in our report that our CEOs believe that the economy is resilient and remains in a strong position relative to other markets thus enabling it to weather this storm. While Northern Irelands CEOs are navigating short-term challenges, they are very confident in the growth prospects for their companies and the local economy over the next three years.

Over the past few years, CEOs have shown great resilience in rising to the challenges set by a constantly evolving environment including realigning their workforces, untangling supply chain disruption and adapting to geopolitical and economic impacts.

Equally, it has become evident that ESG is now centre stage in the boardroom. As our survey affirms, the ESG agenda is fundamental to a sustainable future and is seen as vital to profitability by a growing number of CEOs in Northern Ireland and worldwide.

Meanwhile, the future of work is constantly evolving. There is a clear pattern where the office remains central to collaboration, innovation and building working relationships and this is complemented by the flexibility of hybrid working.

Finally, our thanks to all the business leaders who contributed to our CEO Outlook 2022 by sharing their invaluable insights.

Read our key findings

Economic outlook

CEOs in Northern Ireland are more confident than global peers but inflation and supply chain concerns are prevalent

  • The NI economy - 96 percent of NI CEOs are optimistic about domestic growth prospects – up from 72 percent in 2021
  • Global outlook - Despite geopolitical and economic challenges, global economic confidence over the next 3 years is at 71 percent
  • Managing geopolitics - Geopolitical uncertainties continue to impact strategies, with 81 percent of CEOs worldwide adjusting or planning to adjust risk management procedures


CEOs are directing digital investment to drive growth but often need to act faster

  • Emerging tech – Disruptive technology has emerged as the number one risk to organisational growth worldwide
  • Staying on track – 68 percent of NI CEOs say they need to be quicker to shift investment to digital opportunities
  • Cyber as a strategic function – Information security is a strategic function and a potential source of competitive advantage for 92 percent of CEOs


CEOs are exploring the future of work with an emphasis on the office at the centre

  • Talent a top priority - 72 percent of Irish CEOs say retaining talent in the context of inflationary pressures is impacting on their business optimism over the next 3 years
  • Caution on hiring - 39 percent of global CEOs and 32 percent of Irish CEOs have implemented a hiring freeze in the past 6 months
  • Experimenting with flexibility - Remote working has had a positive impact on productivity according to 64 percent of Irish CEOs


CEOs are increasingly recognising the impact and value of ESG on profit and reputation

  • Connecting to profitability - 44 percent of Irish CEOs agree that ESG programmes improve financial performance, an increase from 32 percent last year
  • Impact on supply chains - CEOs everywhere increasingly see reporting and transparency as important to their ESG goals — including supply chain insight
  • Under the microscope - 76 percent of Irish CEOs expect to see more stakeholder scrutiny of ESG progress


Read our ROI edition