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CFOs most optimistic since Q3 2021

CFOs most optimistic since Q3 2021

July 9, 2024

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More than half of chief financial officers, 58%, are optimistic about the US economy, according to accounting firm Grant Thornton’s second-quarter CFO survey released July 8. It’s the highest level of optimism since the third quarter of 2021.

The survey found that 63% of CFOs are confident in their organization’s ability to meet increased demand — a record high in the history of the CFO survey.

CFOs expressed confidence in meeting supply chain needs, 62%; growth projections, 56%; cost control goals, 55%; and labor needs, 55%.

Attracting and retaining key talent is a priority for the next 12 months for 58% of CFOs.

While 75% of CFOs expect their net profit to grow over the next 12 months, 69% anticipate revenue increases and 67% foresee higher expenses.

However, 57% cited cost optimization as their top area of focus this quarter, noting the high capital cost.

AI and technology remained a priority in the second quarter, with 94% of CFOs using or exploring generative AI, especially for cybersecurity and risk management.

CFOs’ biggest challenges include technology upgrades and cybersecurity.

IT/digital transformation and cyber risk/security — at 64% and 62%, respectively — are the top two areas for expense increases for the next 12 months, the highest percentage ever recorded in the survey’s history.

The survey also queried about managing cost cuts. Thirty-seven percent of CFOs identified materials costs as an area for potential cuts, with human capital expenses related to employee headcount and compensation levels also under scrutiny.

On the other hand, 47% of CFOs identified workforce rationalization as a top-three area of focus for the next six months, up 14 percentage points from the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, 91% of finance leaders stated their organization has a solid talent strategy to deliver on business goals and 89% said their technology platforms maximize employee output and efficiency.

Although most finance leaders are confident in their ability to control costs, to do so will require significant focus.

The survey includes responses from 225 senior financial leaders.