Optimism. It’s the single word defining chief financial officers not only around the country, but around the globe as well. A recent survey of 1,259 CFOs by Deloitte finds that nearly half of all respondents believe the United States economy will continue to improve throughout the rest of 2013. The 45% of optimistic CFOs is up from 25% just one year ago and from 31% in the fall. Similarly, 44% of CFOs also believe that their industry prospects and business-to-business deals are on the steps of an upward trend.
What’s particular about this study is the sample of CFOs, which was taken from 16 countries and regions. While the currency and debt crisis in Europe continues to unfold and the Chinese and American markets are still relatively unpredictable, there is a palpable sense of relief among the world’s most influential CFOs.
So why the boost in CFO confidence? One of the major factors according to the study is that chief executives are happier with their business’s performance and conditions in the last few months than the previous year. However, practical challenges that face CFOs such as hiring, technological changes, and mundane expenses still place a damper on overall sentiments.
What CFO Confidence Means for Hiring, Expansion
Currently, the United States Business Optimism Index is at 61% thanks to boosted CFO confidence. This tops the long-run average index value. What’s noteworthy about the study is that CFOs see their own companies as running stable, but are still cautious about major moves until economic improvement is more apparent. Still, CFOs intend to boost technological investment and spending to continue streamlining the workflow process, but hiring will remain anemic at best. In other words, any expansion will be achieved internally or through technology rather than increasing the workforce.
According to the survey, the top hesitation CFOs have in hiring new workers is the “shortage of skilled financial workers.” Up to 13% of CFOs state that it’s “very challenging” to find qualified financial professionals and an even more noticeable 32% said it was “somewhat challenging.” This is expected to translate into a higher reliance on expense management software among businesses and a continued reluctance to hire financial workers.