AICPA Survey Bullish on Business

Reversing a trend of declining optimism over the past three years, CPAs serving as chief executive officers, chief financial officers and in other executive financial positions have a favorable view of the economy, according to the first quarter 2007 Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey. The study, conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), shows that 68 percent of these executives expect their businesses to expand over the next 12 months.

The expectation of revenue and profit growth spanned most industry segments, and a majority of the companies surveyed have plans for both increased hiring and spending. Headcount increases are anticipated by 55 percent of the companies surveyed, while workforce reductions are planned by only 13 percent. Half the CPAs surveyed said their companies plan to increase spending on employee training and development over the coming 12 months. IT budget increases of greater than 5 percent are expected by more than one-third of the respondents and other capital spending increases are anticipated by 55 percent.

“What’s particularly refreshing is that companies have a healthier outlook on the growth of their business within the next twelve months and anticipate increasing spending in staff development and training, IT and capital investments,” said John Morrow, AICPA Vice President for members in Business, Industry and Government. “Most respondents expect increases in revenues, profits and the number of employees. The key concerns revealed by the survey are employee benefits costs and the anticipation that these expenditures will continue to rise. On a positive note, businesses remain concerned about employee development and staff retention and plan to increase spending in these areas.”

Staff-related issues, including costs, retention and availability of professionals with management and specialized skills, account for four of the top five challenges faced by organizations. Healthcare costs continue to be a major concern, with 34 percent of companies expecting increases in the 4 to 8 percent range. Forty-two percent are expecting increases in excess of 8 percent in the upcoming year.

“A unique aspect of our survey is that members not only indicate what their opinion about the economy as a whole is, but also what the plans and expectations are for their own businesses,” said Ken Witt, AICPA Technical Manager for members in Business, Industry and Government. “We think that it is a very strong data point that, in spite of the barrage of mixed signals that come across in the media, more than two-thirds of the 2,001 members responding to our survey are optimistic about the prospects for their companies in 2007.”

The survey, conducted in January, represents the views of 2,001 AICPA members across a wide spectrum of industries. Of that number, 256 serve as CEO or COOs, 1,074 are CFOs and 389 are controllers. Respondents from U.S. privately owned entities comprised 63 percent of the total, 17 percent come from publicly held companies and the balance are from foreign-owned entities, government and education and not-for-profit organizations. Businesses of all sizes, from those with one employee and less than $10 million in revenue to those with over 1,000 employees and over $1 billion in revenue, were represented.

The complete survey results are available at the AICPA Financial Management Center:

You may like these other stories...

With complex financial issues playing a larger role in litigation, and people increasingly turning to CPA experts to involve themselves in everything from criminal investigations to shareholder disputes to uncovering assets...
And down the stretch they come!No, it’s not the thoroughbreds charging toward the finish line in the Kentucky Derby, but the millions of US taxpayers who have yet to file their individual income tax returns before the...
There is increased optimism about the US economy among business executives, as more are anticipating modest growth in recruitment, staff training, and targeted capital spending in the next year, according to results of a new...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Apr 17
In this exciting presentation Excel expert David H. Ringstrom, CPA shares tricks that you can use with pivot tables every day. Remember, either you work Excel, or it works you!
Apr 22
Is everyone at your organization meeting your client service expectations? Let client service expert, Kristen Rampe, CPA help you establish a reputation of top-tier service in every facet of your firm during this one hour webinar.
Apr 24
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA introduces you to a powerful but underutilized macro feature in Excel.
Apr 25
This material focuses on the principles of accounting for non-profit organizations' revenues. It will include discussions of revenue recognition for cash and non-cash contributions as well as other revenues commonly received by non-profit organizations.