Financial and Monetary Systems

The top 6 economic concerns for CFOs

James Kosur
C-Suite editor, Business Insider
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Financial and Monetary Systems

If you serve as a chief financial officer in today’s rapidly changing environment, you are forced to confront a lot of variables that offer new challenges on a daily basis.

Whether you are battling to meet regulatory deadlines or attempting to hire the best talent available in a job seeker’s market, your role as the head of finance never ends.

Independent audit, tax, and advisory firm Grant Thornton recently surveyed 912 CFOs to determine which concerns weigh most heavily on their minds in 2015.

Here are the top six concerns among CFOs:

1. Economic uncertainty

More than half (55%) of CFOs said they believe economic uncertainty will carry over for at least the next 12 months. That finding was despite the fact that 49% of CFOs said they believe the economy will remain unchanged, and 43% said it would improve over the next year. 

2. Congressional dysfunction

CFOs were most concerned and frustrated with the “dysfunction in Congress” over the delay in a bill that would extend more than 50 popular tax provisions they take advantage of on a yearly basis. The study found that 37% of CFOs are acting as though the extension will not occur, 26% are assuming the risk that it will not occur, and only 9% believe the extension will move forward.

3. Interest rates and currency

These executives are also worried that a strong US dollar will hurt their overseas operations and depress revenue growth in the US. Other CFOs in the study point to mixed signals from the US Federal Reserve over the increase in interest rates.

4. Cybersecurity

Some 44% of CFOs said the most significant concern for their organizations is cybersecurity risks, while 57% said it was undetected breaches that worried them the most.

5. Regulatory compliance

The increasing cost of compliance worries 45% of CFOs. They name government compliance as their biggest growth challenge. Nearly a third (31%) of CFOs said they fear being able to keep up with government regulations that are becoming increasingly more challenging.

6. Growth risk

Most CFOs (80%) said they would pursue growth in already established markets, and 54% said they would leverage existing cash reserves. They also suggested that the enthusiasm surrounding mergers and acquisitions may be waning.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom on the CFO front. Some 70% of CFOs said they are working hard to find and keep great talent, and nearly half said they expect new hiring to increase over the next six months. Meanwhile, 67% revealed plans to increase salaries in the coming year.

Here’s an infographic from Grant Thornton that illustrates some of the findings:

150820 BAS CFO survey infographic 150824FINAL

This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: James is the C-Suite editor at Business Insider.

Image: A man walks along an empty street near the central financial district in Hong Kong. REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

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Financial and Monetary SystemsEconomic Progress
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