Flagging Optimism on Economy Among Accountants

What a difference six months can make. In December, 71 percent of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) serving as chief executive officers (CEOs), chief financial officers (CFOs) and other decision makers had a positive outlook on the state of the economy. According to the latest Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey, only 57 percent still feel that way.

Concerns about rising energy and employee costs, increased regulation and the cascade effect of provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have hurt optimism. More than 50 percent of respondents are more concerned about these issues than they were six months ago. Among the specific policy issues concerning CPA decision-makers, more are concerned with the impact of short-term interest rates on inflation maintaining current Social Security tax levels then with unemployment or maintaining current Social Security benefit levels. Other issues concerning CPA executives include rising home prices, increasing levels of financing and growing consumer debt.

The semi-annual study conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and available from the AICPA Financial Management Center does contain some good news. At 74 percent, slightly more decision-making CPAs expresses continued optimism for their own organizations.

“What’s particularly interesting is that despite the concerns about the economy, expectations for growth, spending and workforce increases continue to be robust at the individual company level,” says John Morrow, AICPA Vice President for members in business an industry.

The survey represents the views of 1,465 AICPA members in public and privately held companies, government, and not-for-profit organizations. The majority of respondents, 830, are CFOs and 205 are CEOs. Nearly two-thirds work for privately held companies. Most, 47 percent, work for companies having revenues of between $10 and $100 million. Another 23 percent are affiliated with organizations having revenues less than $10 million while 20 percent are affiliated with organizations having revenues of $100 million to $1 billion. CPAs from companies with revenues exceeding $1 billion represent only 10 percent of respondents.

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