New research has found that New Zealand chief executives feel much more confident in their industry’s resilience over the next six months – but industry confidence from global leaders is going in the other direction.

Through its global survey of 1,325 global CEOs from 12 countries, "big four" accounting firm KPMG found that 53% of NZ chief executives were “very confident” in their industry’s resilience over the next six months, compared with just 26% globally.

Chief executive Godfrey Boyce said the difference in confidence between NZ leaders and global CEOs pointed to strong demand for goods and services.

“Unlike most of the world, NZ has only recently emerged from covid-19 restrictions and opened our borders,” he said.

“Industries that have been dormant – tourism, hospitality, international education – are expected to see a direct boost.” 

While more optimistic, a whopping 90% of NZ executives that were surveyed reported that they either have or will implement a hiring freeze in the next six months due to recession worries.

Local leaders were found to be more concerned about their ability to keep talent, given inflation and the rising cost of living, compared with 75% of their global counterparts.

Sales pipelines will also likely face increasing scrutiny due to leaders having to grapple with financial pressures and the battle to keep “top talent”, the survey said.

More than 43% of NZ chief executives said inflationary pressures and the rising cost of living would have an impact on their organisation keeping talent over the next three years, versus 21% of global CEOs.

Boyce said CEOs were now having to expect uncertainty and make decisions for a long-term horizon that was becoming “increasingly blurry”.

“2022 has not been a simple year,” he said.

However, KPMG’s survey did find that New Zealand CEOs are more confident in their growth prospects and the resilience of their industries in the face of global economic uncertainty than their international peers. 

On the environmental, social and governance (ESG) front, 87% of Kiwi chief executives – compared with 72% globally – believed that major global social and environmental challenges, such as income inequality and climate change, were a threat to a company’s long-term growth and value.

Simon Wilkins, head of KPMG Impact – which works with organisations to positively impact the United Nations' sustainable-development goals – said the “vast majority” of Kiwi CEOs saw income inequality and climate change as a threat to their company's long-time growth and value.

“Yet they are struggling with telling their ESG story and demonstrating impact,” he said.

“New Zealand’s organisations should be focused on fully integrating ESG into core operations and increasing capability around identifying, measuring and analysing the right data to demonstrate their ESG progress with confidence.”