Fifty-four percent of American CFOs and controllers do not foresee any change to the health of the economy in the next six months, according to a new survey by Grant Thornton.
The survey also found that 56 percent of the CFOs and controllers polled cited health care and pension costs as the biggest barrier to their financial growth.
“With the economy in a fragile recovery, CFOs are most concerned about rising health care costs when it comes to compensation and benefits,” said Grant Thornton CEO Stephen Chipman in a statement. “Most companies will continue to see a significant increase in healthcare costs unless they have taken proactive steps to promote wellness and better utilization of healthcare benefits, which can help ease the increase of these costs.”
However, most CFOs are optimistic about maintaining (45 percent) or increasing (37 percent) their headcount over the next six months.
As the cost of health care grows, 77 percent of the 400 CFOs and controllers surveyed anticipate company and employee contributions to health insurance to increase over the next year. Yet benefits such as life insurance and disability are expected to remain mostly unchanged.
The survey also found that 45 percent of those surveyed believe that deficit reduction is the number one initiative to improve overall economic optimism, while 27 percent believe job creation is the solution. In addition, 46 percent said that a tax incentive is not the solution. Even so, 30 percent of those surveyed believe a direct tax incentive for hiring new workers would increase the likelihood of expanding their workforce.
“CFOs are in a prime position to judge the health of the economy, as they have an inside look at their companies’ hiring practices as it relates to financial health of the organization,” said Chipman. “It remains to be seen how upcoming events, such as the Presidential Election, will impact that outlook.”