Chief financial offers have grown significantly more confident in the U.S. economy over the past year, according to the 2013 Spring CFO Survey from Grant Thornton, which found that almost half (45 percent) of respondents believe it will improve during the next six months.
This optimism from the 1,259 polled CFOs and comptrollers was up from 31 percent in the fall, 25 percent last summer, and was evident in other survey findings.
Forty-four percent of respondents predicted industry prospects will improve during the next six months, compared to 34 percent in the fall, and 37 percent believe the pricing or fees charged by their industry will increase in the next six months, up from 30 percent last summer.
When asked about employment opportunities over the next six months, 40 percent of those surveyed said their company’s head count would increase, a rise of 6 percent from the fall.
Additionally, 65 percent of CFOs and comptrollers expect the average cost of an employee’s salary to increase during the next 12 months, a growth of six percent from the fall, while they expect the total cost of employee benefits, including bonuses (56 percent), stock options (72 percent), 401(k) match (86 percent), and other company-matched retirement contributions (81 percent), to remain unchanged from the prior year.
Grant Thornton’s recent International Business Report found similar optimism in U.S. economic performance, which rose from -4 percent among U.S. business leaders in fourth quarter 2012 to 31 percent in first quarter 2013.
“The results of our spring survey are encouraging — particularly with respect to the uptick in expectations for improved financial prospects,” said Grant Thornton chief executive officer Stephen Chipman in a statement. “Seemingly, steady improvements in key economic indicators, including labor and housing, have helped stimulate greater optimism among CFOs, at least in the near-term.”
Despite the confidence, CFOs still cite legislative indecision as a concern, with 47 percent saying they are unable to make a major decision that would allow their company to grow because of uncertainty surrounding the funding of the U.S. government. The second-greatest bottleneck, for 31 percent of respondents, was tax reform.
More information on the survey is available here.
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