The Year Ahead, Revenue Growth and Managing Costs Top List of Concerns

What keeps financial executives up at night? Making sure their businesses are in the black. In a new nationwide survey, 34 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) said their company’s top priority for 2005 is growing revenue.

Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents said they anticipate employee healthcare plans to be the biggest cost increase over the next 12 months.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees.

CFOs were asked, “What is your company’s top business priority or concern for 2005?” Their responses:

  • Growing revenue or sales 34%
  • Managing expenses 22%
  • Recruiting and retaining qualified staff 17%
  • Gaining competitive market share 11%
  • Strengthening internal controls 6%
  • Streamlining business processes 6%
  • Other 3%

CFOs were also asked, “Of the following, where do you anticipate the biggest cost increase to your company in the next 12 months?” Their responses:

  • Employee healthcare plans 45%
  • Technology spending 20%
  • Employee recruitment and training 11%
  • Other employee benefits 6%
  • Telecommunications 3%
  • Wage increases and salaries 3%

“CFOs are ready for the prospect of growing their business in the new year, especially after a long period of economic and regulatory challenges,” said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “They also realize the importance of stepping up recruiting and retention efforts to boost productivity and revenue.”

McDonald noted that CFOs remain concerned about keeping expenses in check. “Rapidly increasing healthcare costs have become a challenge for companies. Financial executives are looking for ways to help offset some of these costs to their firms while gauging employees’ tolerance for rising out-of-pocket expenses.

“CFOs also are weighing the costs to invest in new technology or upgrade existing systems,” added McDonald. “Many firms that have relied on obsolete software are evaluating their needs to streamline operational efficiencies.”

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