Chief financial officers in the U.S. lead CFOs in Europe in terms of economic optimism, access to credit and plans for hiring new workers, according to a new survey.

The poll, by Financial Executives International and Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business, found that 64 percent of U.S. CFOs plan to hire additional employees within the next six months, compared with 46 percent of European CFOs. Forty-three percent of CFOs in the European Union said they do not plan to hire.

The quarterly survey polled over 300 CFOs in the U.S., and 200 CFOs from Europe.

The top business challenge for the first half of 2011 cited by U.S. and European CFOs was revenue growth. U.S CFOs also cited consumer spending, government regulation and health care costs, while European CFOs cited consumer spending, domestic economic growth, government regulation and global competition.

Slightly more than half of the CFOs anticipate no change in their access to credit over the next six months (53 percent in Europe and 55 percent in the U.S.). Forty-seven percent of CFOs in the U.S., and 52 percent of CFOs in Europe, are spending cautiously. Twenty-five percent of CFOs in Europe and 30 percent of CFOs in the U.S. said they are spending at a normal rate. The majority of CFOs in both the U.S. and Europe said they are directing their investments toward technology.

Potential tax reform is also on the minds of U.S. CFOs at the start of 2011, who appear encouraged about the outcome of a new tax package.  Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed in the U.S. felt the effect would be positive for the U.S. economy, with far less believing that it will have a negative effect (14 percent) or no impact at all (18 percent).

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