New Zealand CEOs’ confident but cautious approach to growth

NZ CEOs’ confident but cautious

Godfrey Boyce - KPMG NZ - Partner

Chief Executive

KPMG in New Zealand


Despite high confidence levels around organisational growth, the vast majority of New Zealand CEOs are still expecting low revenue growth, according to just-released research from KPMG New Zealand.

The CEO Outlook survey took the pulse of New Zealand business leaders in a cross-section of New Zealand’s key industries, and includes commentary from Simon Moutter, Deborah Capill, Neal Barclay and Murray Holdaway, and US based Lovina McMurchy.

The report shows that while almost 90% of New Zealand CEOs surveyed are confident in their growth prospects, there is a real disconnect when it comes to revenue growth. The vast majority of CEOs are expecting revenue growth of less than 2% over the next three years.

KPMG New Zealand’s Chief Executive Godfrey Boyce says that a growth mindset is an imperative to achieve growth. “We need to challenge our low revenue growth expectations and be willing to disrupt our own businesses. Ultimately, this needs to be customer driven.”

More than half of New Zealand CEOs believe that their investment in customer experience has delivered results. But, it’s not easy, with 60% of New Zealand CEOs acknowledging they still need to do more to improve their understanding of their customers.

“The customer landscape is changing rapidly, and the high bar for excellence is no longer industry specific. CEOs must take the lead to ensure customer-centricity is embodied at every level of the organisation. We need to draw on our innate ability to act quickly, do things differently, and continuously challenge ourselves as to whether it’s enough.”

With 66% of CEOs recognising the need to improve innovative processes (up from 30% in 2018), thinking differently about what agility and innovation mean to New Zealand businesses is paramount.

“Innovation should be considered a daily occurrence, and doesn’t have to be a formal programme requiring significant investment. We don’t think Kiwis really relate well to the concept of ‘fail fast’ so CEOs should foster an innovation culture of ‘learn fast’.”

Inescapable is the impact of digital technology, with 70% of CEOs viewing digital transformation as a key pillar in their strategy. However this is in contrast with CEOs’ views on when they’ll realise the benefits of digital transformation – 40% of CEOs don’t expect to achieve a return on investment within three years.

It’s fair to say that New Zealand CEOs are confident, but cautious. Now is the time for them to question ‘am I prepared to back my ambition, and invest in the key enablers for growth and change in my organisation?’ To achieve their potential and leave a legacy to be proud of, the answer needs to be ‘Yes’.

Key insights at a glance:

  • New Zealand CEOs are planning to increase employee numbers by less than 5% over the next three years – whereas more than a third of CEOs globally expect to increase headcount between 6% and 10%.
  • 60% of CEOs agree that acting with agility is the new currency of business, compared to 78% in 2018.
  • 70% of CEOs intend to partner with third-party data providers to help pursue growth
  • 62% of CEOs want their employees to feel empowered to innovate, without worrying about the negative consequences if the initiative fails.
  • New Zealand ranks lowest globally in our preparedness for a cyber-attack, with only 48% of New Zealand CEOs viewing their organisation as well prepared.
  • 86% of CEOs see technological disruption as more of an opportunity than a threat.
  • 64% of CEOs believe their organisation’s growth will be determined by their ability to anticipate and navigate the global shift to a low-carbon, clean technology economy.

The 2019 KPMG New Zealand CEO Outlook Survey is run in conjunction with a KPMG Global survey of 1,300 CEOs. Locally, 50 CEOs from different industries were surveyed.

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