The nation’s finance chiefs are relatively optimistic about the future, but remain cautious in the face of domestic uncertainties like Congressional inaction on tax reform. This is according to the latest edition of Grant Thornton LLP’s CFO Survey, which reflects the insights of more than 900 chief financial officers and other senior financial executives across the United States.
More than half (55 percent) of CFOs say uncertainty in the U.S. economy is a major concern that could impact their businesses’ growth in the next 12 months. This is despite the fact that most CFOs expect the U.S. economy overall to remain the same (49 percent) or improve (43 percent) in the next 12 months, suggesting that factors other than the overall health of the economy are presenting a barrier to growth.
“While the U.S. economy has stabilized, our data suggest that uncertainty related to other economic factors is making strategic planning difficult for financial executives,” said Randy Robason, Grant Thornton’s national managing partner of Tax Services. “CFOs are looking to Washington, regulators and the Federal Reserve for answers and getting nothing but indecision.”
Business leaders’ concern over these economic uncertainties appears to have increased significantly since earlier this year. In May 2015, only net 22 percent of U.S. business leaders saw economic uncertainty as a major constraint on their ability to grow in the coming year, according to the Grant Thornton International Business Report.
Particularly frustrating for CFOs is the dysfunction in Congress over a bill to extend more than 50 popular tax provisions that expired at the end of 2014.
Meanwhile, good news for finance professionals: CFOs are aggressively looking to develop and hire new talent. The vast majority (70 percent) of CFOs say finding and retaining the right talent is a critical need for supporting growth. Forty percent expect their business’s new hiring to increase in the next six months; 52 percent expect hiring to remain the same. A majority of CFOs (67 percent) plan to increase salaries in the coming year, holding steady since 2014.