Reversing a trend of declining optimism over the past three years, CPAs serving as chief executive officers, chief financial officers and in other executive financial positions have a favorable view of the economy, according to the first quarter 2007 Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey.

The study, conducted by the American Institute of CPAs, shows that nearly 70 percent of these executives expect their businesses to expand over the next 12 months.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • Headcount increases are anticipated by 55 percent of the companies surveyed, while workforce reductions are planned by only 13 percent;
  • Half of the surveyed CPAs said that their company plan to increase spending on employee training and development over the coming 12 months; and,
  • IT budget increases of greater than 5 percent are expected by more than one-third of the respondents, while other capital spending increases were anticipated by 55 percent of the respondents.

Staff-related issues, including costs, retention and availability of professionals with management and specialized skills, account for four of the top five challenges faced by organizations.“Most respondents expect increases in revenues, profits and the number of employees,” said John Morrow, AICPA vice president for members in Business, Industry and Government. “The key concerns revealed by the survey are employee benefits costs and the anticipation that these expenditures will continue to rise. On a positive note, businesses remain concerned about employee development and staff retention and plan to increase spending in these areas.”
Conducted in January, the survey represents the views of more than 2,000 AICPA members -- more than half of the respondents were CFOs working for privately-owned U.S. companies.

The complete survey results are available at the AICPA Financial Management Center,

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