The Wall Street Journal recently hosted an international CFO Network Conference in Washington, D.C., where many of the most world’s most recognizable chief financial officers were in attendance. During the conference, it was revealed that although CFOs across the world are largely more optimistic about business and economic performance than in 2012, there’s still a widespread sense of caution.
At the conference, the financial experts discussed various trends around the globe, and were largely in agreement about economic growth. They predicted 2% growth over the next 3 years in the United States, compared to 0% in Europe and 7% in China. Furthermore, several political topics were discussed, revealing angst over the political gridlock in Washington, D.C. But what was the most revealing were the top business priorities listed by CFOs.
These priority included:
1. The United States Corporate Tax Rate
CFOs overwhelmingly agreed during the CFO Network Conference that Congress should evaluate its corporate tax preferences and lower the corporate income-tax rate to 25% or lower. Currently, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate around the globe, resting 14% higher than the OECD average. By lowering the corporate tax rate, CFOs argue that the United States will be able to be more competitive and that the economic job market will improve as well.
As more CFOs are investing in technology to improve workflow processes, there are more security concerns than ever before. CFOs not only intend to continue investing in technology, but in security protection as well. In fact, several major corporations are hiring hackers to test security systems and perform the necessary adjustments. By improving inter-organizational technological literacy, CFOs believe that they can continue to lead the cybersecurity discussion.
More and more CFOs are interested in the energy infrastructure of the United States, recognizing that the development of gas, oil, and electric pipelines and transmissions could bring energy and a manufacturing renaissance to the United States. At the CFO Network Conference, chief financial officers largely agreed that a national conversation about increasing the nation’s energy independence could revitalize many sectors of the U.S. economy.