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Fiscal Cliff, Deficits, and Jobs Remain Concerns

Nov 1st 2012
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While there may be mixed views of the US economic outlook by the two presidential candidates, three quarters of America's corporate financial executives are relatively bullish about the economy and expect it will stay the same or improve over the next six months. Perhaps, irrespective of who takes office in the White House.

Most of the 540 financial officers surveyed in a new poll just released see the current economic conditions in their industry as the same (45 percent) or better (29 percent) than six months ago. Yet unemployment (55 percent), the deficit (44 percent), and the fiscal cliff (43 percent) are on the list of top current economic concerns. Possibly as a result of these ongoing economic challenges, the CFO role has become more strategic (74 percent), stressful (53 percent), and innovative (52 percent) over the last five years. 

The results are part of the findings of a quarterly Business Variables and Volatility Poll conducted in the third quarter by Adaptive Planning and the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network. Despite some disappointing earnings and recent swings in the stock market, CFOs are relatively upbeat about the economy, with only 20 percent predicting a probable recession over the next twelve months. And though most do not foresee sustained jobs growth in the overall US economy until at least the second half of next year (34 percent) or even 2014 (45 percent), more than a quarter (28 percent) expect to hire additional staff within their own companies within the next six months.

"While the country is still feeling guarded in this time of economic uncertainty, it is clear that financial executives are seeing the need to plan and prepare for growth in 2013", Said Dave Murray, executive vice president of the BPI Network. 

"Historically, CFOs have tended to be more guarded and cautious, yet in this case we are seeing surprising optimism for the future of the economy", said Greg Schneider, vice president of marketing for Adaptive Planning. "As financial professionals continue to increase the frequency of forecasting and planning due to volatile conditions, they are able to gain more insight into where they are and where they want to be."

Some 41 percent see the current uncertainty facing their company as high or very high. In order to cope in current volatile times, 29 percent re-planned or re-forecasted three times or more in Q3, and 49 percent will need to do so more frequently this quarter.

With some indications of a recovering economy (consumer spending, housing market revival, GDP growth), over half of those surveyed plan for revenue growth within their company over the next six months. 

"While CFOs are indeed planning for growth and hiring within their own firms, they are not predicting a lot of short-term hiring in the overall US economy", added Schneider. "Moreover, they do seem to be getting more prepared to deal with the economic fluctuations and extremes so they will be able to make quick, intelligent decisions whether the economy picks up or slows down in the coming year." 

The online poll conducted in September of 2012 surveyed more than 540 financial professionals from companies in over twenty industries, ranging in size from under $10 million to over $1 billion in revenues. This is the eleventh poll examining perspectives on key economic conditions, individual company performance, and the role of planning and forecasting in the current economy. The Business Volatility and Variables Survey is conducted quarterly, with results tallied against those of previous quarters and years to identify trends in overall economic conditions and planning practices. 

Read the entire report. 

Source: GlobalFluency News Release