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Spring 2013 CFO Survey

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Grant Thornton LLP conducts its CFO Survey twice a year with CFOs and other senior financial executives across the United States. The spring 2013 survey took place between April 3-24, with 1,259 CFOs and comptrollers participating.

During the past year, chief financial officers (CFOs) have grown significantly more confident in the U.S. economy, The survey findings reveal that 45 percent of respondents believe the state of the U.S. economy will improve during the next six months, compared to just 31 percent in the fall and 25 percent last summer.

That confidence extends throughout the survey findings, with 44 percent of those surveyed predicting that industry financial prospects will improve during the next six months, compared to 34 percent in the fall. Since last summer, the number of CFOs who believe the pricing or fees charged by their industry will increase in the next six months has jumped seven percentage points to 37 percent. In addition, when CFOs were asked about employment opportunities during the next six months, more than a third (40 percent) said their company’s head count would increase, rising 6 percent from the fall.

Other highlights include: 

The survey found that the majority of CFOs still favor the general concept of tax reform, with support among CFOs for repealing targeted tax incentives in exchange for a rate cut holding steady at 76%. That figure is basically unchanged from 75% in the fall 2012 CFO survey, but still well below the figures of 79% last summer and 87% in 2011.

This June, the International Accounting Standards Board and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) are set to issue a new revenue recognition standard. The new standard will replace most of the current U.S. industry standards for recognizing revenue beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2017. More than half (54%) of CFOs are currently unaware of this forthcoming revenue recognition standard.

Despite political headwinds from Washington, D.C., CFOs are continuing to push their company in the right direction. However, as congressional gridlock worsens, businesses are facing more and more legislative bottlenecks. Today, the single largest bottleneck for executives is the uncertainty surrounding the funding of the U.S. government. Almost half of all survey participants (47%) cite the nation’s fiscal uncertainty as limiting their company to make major decisions that would allow for growth. 

In the last six months, the number of CFOs anticipating an increase in the cost of employee salaries, on an average per employee basis, has jumped six percentage points. Almost two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed believe salary costs will increase during the next year. 

Many CFOs (66%) believe the broadening of the sales tax base to many types of services would have the greatest impact on their business. The findings reflect a growing concern that states will impose their sales taxes on more types of services in the coming years.The fact that several states have tried to expand the sales tax base this year in a well publicized manner may explain the 8% increase in responses from the 2012 fall CFO Survey.

Download the General Findings report

Download the Federal Tax report

Download the Accounting and Auditing report 

Download the Public Policy report

Download the Compensation and Benefits report

Download the State and Local Tax report