Finance executives indicated growing pessimism and increasing economic uncertainty, according to a new survey.

The survey, by planning software developer Adaptive Planning and the Business Performance Innovation Network, revealed concerns about a double-dip recession and jobless recovery continue despite economic stabilization. Planning and reporting were cited as the main challenges for finance organizations.

The quarterly online poll found that 46 percent of the financial professionals surveyed predict a “W-shaped” recovery, similar to the 51 percent expecting a “double-dip” recession in last quarter’s survey. Four out of five finance executives (80 percent) expect that a meaningful and sustained recovery in jobs growth will not occur until 2011 or beyond, with a full 41 percent believing it will be in the second half of 2011 or beyond.

The majority view current economic conditions as the same (38 percent) or better (35 percent) than they were six months ago. However, a growing number of finance professionals have become more pessimistic about the future, with 21 percent expecting the economy to be in worse condition in six months — more than double the percentage from last quarter (10 percent), and the highest “negative” reading since March 2009.

At the same time, finance professionals are also reporting less optimism for the future performance of their companies. While half (51 percent) expect revenue growth for their company over the next six months, one quarter (24 percent) expect revenues to fall – a significant deterioration from last quarter’s 14 percent. In terms of hiring, most expect no changes (49 percent) or additions to staff (22 percent); however, 29 percent expect to have fewer staff in six months, which is also worse than last quarter’s 22 percent. 

The economic outlook is becoming increasingly murky as well, with 60 percent of the respondents reporting high or very high levels of uncertainty. That result is up from 53 percent last quarter and near the highest level of uncertainty previously reported, 63 percent in March 2009. This uncertainty is continuing to drive more frequent re-forecasting and scenario planning, with well over half (56 percent) expecting to increase the frequency of their re-planning and what-if analysis next quarter. 

The survey also found that improving planning, reporting, and analysis was the top challenge for finance organizations, well ahead of staff issues, revenue concerns, access to capital and credit, expense management, and many other issues. 

“In addition to the top concerns from past surveys — demand for products, U.S. financial market stability, and healthcare reform — finance professionals are now also worried about Euro-zone instability,” said Adaptive Planning CEO William A. Soward in a statement. “Against this backdrop, it’s not surprising that the No. 1 pain for finance organizations is improving their budgeting, forecasting, and reporting processes. Traditional approaches to financial management are simply no longer sufficient given the demands that the current economic environment places on executives and management teams.”

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access