Banking CEOs continue to accelerate their digital plans for a seamless customer experience, while focusing on ESG and diversity and inclusion goals


The majority of banking CEOs are confident about the growth prospects of the domestic economy and their businesses and, in response to the pandemic, plan to shift their organizations’ focus to the social component of their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) programs, according to the 2021 KPMG CEO Outlook survey.  In the new study, the vast majority of the banking CEOs surveyed also said they will continue to accelerate their efforts to create a seamless digital customer experience as a result of the pandemic.

The survey features insights from 500 CEOs at large companies globally, including 60 CEOs representing banking, on the key challenges and opportunities in driving business growth over the next three years.

Key Banking industry findings include:

  • Banking CEOs are confident in the growth prospects of the domestic economy (78%) and their company (75%), while 35% are confident in the growth prospects of the global economy.
  • Moderate growth is expected. Forty-eight percent predict 2.5-5% growth for their companies, while 32% expect 5-10% growth.
  • Tax risk (22%), regulatory risk (20%), interest rate risk (20%), cyber security risk (18%), operational risk (8%) and reputational brand risk (7%) were identified as the greatest threats to their organizations’ growth.
  • Ninety-seven percent said they are using their corporate purpose to drive action in addressing the needs of their stakeholders.
  • Ninety-eight percent say they feel a stronger emotional connection to their corporate purpose since the pandemic began.
  • Forty-five percent say as a result of the pandemic, the creation of a seamless customer experience has accelerated by years; 52 % say it has accelerated by months.

“It’s clear from the study that Banking CEOs are continuing to invest in their digital transformation in the race to offer a seamless customer experience,” said Peter Torrente, National Sector Leader, Banking & Capital Markets, KPMG LLP.


“In addition, ESG is top of mind, with 97 percent of the banking CEOs agreeing that their response to the pandemic has caused them to shift their focus toward the social component of ESG programs. They clearly understand the significance of developing an ESG strategy and the impact it can have on their customers, employees and on attracting and retaining top talent,” Torrente said.

The study also asked what technologies organizations plan to invest more in, compared to last year. Sixty-eight percent chose data security measures, 55 % said customer centric technologies, 47 % said digital communications, video conferencing and messaging platforms, and 40 % chose cloud computing.

More than half (62%) agree that diversity and inclusion has moved much too slowly in the business world, while 95% agree that the scrutiny of organizations will continue to increase over the next three years. Eighty-five percent agree there is a huge amount to do to build gender diversity on boards.

When asked how soon they envision their company returning to a normal course of business, 45% said sometime in 2022, 20% said the fall of 2021, 22% said the winter of 2021 and 12% said their business is forever changed.

When asked about the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on their business, 73% said customer engagement will be done predominately virtual platforms--e.g. chat boxes, social media, telephone, website. Sixty-three percent said increasing HR resources to take care of employees’ wellness and 53% said they will continue to build on their use of digital collaboration and communication tools.


Media Contact

Pete Settles

Pete Settles

Director, Corp. Comm., Financial Services, KPMG US

+1 201-505-6065



Peter Torrente

Peter Torrente

National Sector Leader, Banking & Capital Markets, KPMG US

+1 212-872-5815

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