Survey: CFOs Remain Optimistic – For Now

CFOs remain optimistic about the economy, even as indicators of a potential recession continue to loom, according to the latest CFO Survey from Chicago-based IPA 100 firm Grant Thornton.

Fifty-four percent of CFOs surveyed for the first-quarter edition of the poll reported being optimistic or very optimistic about the economy, while more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents projected a rise in net profits for their organization over the next 12 months. Even as optimism remains high, however, confidence in controlling costs seems to be waning, as survey participants ranked cost optimization as their top near-term focus for the fourth straight quarter.

“Many companies are reviewing their contracts and relationships to see where they might have opportunities to reduce costs,” says Sean Denham, national audit growth leader at Grant Thornton. “CFOs are expecting a bumpy ride as the year develops, but they’re buckling in and driving forward with the idea that the road will get smoother later in the year.”

Among other key findings in this edition of the survey:

  • Technology spending saw a double-digit increase as an area for possible cost-cutting since last year, jumping from 33% in the second quarter of 2022 to 43% this quarter.
  • More than half of CFOs (57%) have clearly defined ESG goals and already report progress against ESG key performance indicators, while more than one-fourth (27%) say ESG disclosures will be one of the biggest challenges their business will face over the next six months – more than double the percentage from the third quarter of 2022 (13%).
  • Seventy-three percent of CFOs say they give at least moderate consideration to ESG when making decisions, with more than one-quarter of that group (29%) noting that ESG is a fundamental consideration in their decisions; overall, just 9% of CFOs said they do not consider ESG at all.


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