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ATB Business Boardroom Sentiment Survey Highlights Outlook is Cautiously Optimistic

By 15 November 2023 4 min read

  • Among Alberta-based business leaders, 83 per cent indicate they are optimistic about the business environment in the next five years.
  • Businesses’ outlook on their own performance shows optimism increases over the next five years. Alberta-based companies are more positive than their peers in the rest of Canada for the next five years: 90 per cent vs. 73 per cent.
  • Concern about a recession is growing and the survey revealed that 71 per cent of business leaders expect a recession in Canada in the next six months—an increase of 8 per cent from the April survey.

November 15, 2023

Calgary – ATB Financial’s latest Boardroom Sentiment survey among Canadian business leaders reveals a sense of cautious optimism regarding both the economy and individual business performance. Short-term concerns, particularly in the immediate and upcoming year, are noticeable, but confidence appears to grow significantly over the next five years. Notably, business leaders in Alberta show higher optimism, with 83 per cent expressing a positive outlook (either "very" or "somewhat") about the business landscape in the next five years, in contrast to 71 per cent in the rest of Canada.

"With ATB’s long history of supporting Alberta businesses, we are able to offer a unique vantage point that provides valuable insights to individuals leading Canada’s midsize and large companies,” said Chris Turchansky, Group Head of ATB Business. “We regularly assess industry sentiment, leveraging deep market expertise to provide clients with a comprehensive overview of the industry."

Conducted by Ipsos between September 11 to 28, 2023, ATB’s semi-annual survey collected valuable insights from 150 leaders across Canada. This included input from 30 leaders in Alberta, representing companies with annual revenues of $10 million or more. The survey encompassed their perspectives on the business and economic environment, forecasts for the upcoming year, notable challenges and opportunities for growth. The survey's findings revealed several noteworthy insights:

Businesses are positive about their own operations:

Businesses are generally positive when reflecting on their own growth and relative performance, with 80 per cent of respondents reporting that their businesses are in either “moderate” or “rapid” growth mode.
67 per cent of business leaders interviewed for Boardroom Sentiment believe their business is outperforming others (either “much” or “somewhat” better) in the same industry. This is an important indicator, showing the confidence leaders have in their own operations and long-term success.

Economic uncertainty, labour and interest rates top concerns:

The primary challenges identified by businesses in the survey revolve around economic uncertainty and recession fears, which account for 23 per cent of concerns, closely followed by the scarcity of skilled labour at 21 per cent. Other labour-related issues are also significant; both labour shortages and increased labour costs due to inflation are equally matched at 17 per cent.

The majority see many opportunities for creating value:

Despite some economic slowdown and shifting in confidence, three-quarters of businesses believe there are favourable areas for them to create financial value for customers and shareholders.

The survey findings indicate that a significant majority of business leaders consider Canada as an attractive place for investment and operations. Approximately 79 per cent believe that Canada presents favourable prospects for economic growth among businesses. Moreover, 77 per cent perceive Canada as a great place to invest, while 73 per cent regard it as a favourable environment for conducting business.

Technology-specific opportunities were recognized by 81 per cent of Canadian business leaders, who perceive access to advancements in new technology as a significant advantage. Following closely is the opportunity to diversify products or services, favoured by 79 per cent of leaders, along with access to capital and the ability to attract top talent, both valued by 76 per cent of respondents. Additionally, the macro-environment holds considerable importance, with 73 per cent expressing a positive outlook. This indicates a 13-point decrease since the spring ATB survey.

"While there are strong near-term headwinds, several factors are likely contributing to a more positive sentiment in Alberta over the medium term. This includes a revitalised energy sector, record interprovincial in-migration, and emerging growth areas like technology, hydrogen and food manufacturing,” said ATB Financial’s Chief Economist, Mark Parsons.

About ATB Financial

With $58.3 billion in assets, ATB Financial is a leading financial institution that started in Alberta with the focus of putting people first. Our success comes from our more than 5,000 team members who love to deliver exceptional experiences to over 800,000 clients across our Personal and Business Banking, ATB Wealth Management and ATB Capital Markets businesses. ATB provides expert advice, services and products through our many branches and agencies, our 24-hour Client Care Centre, four entrepreneur centres and our digital banking options. ATB powers possibilities for our clients, communities and beyond. More information about ATB can be found at

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