Global Business Confidence Hits Four-Year Low Says New Survey from ACCA and IMA

Anjelica Sena
Stern Strategy Group
(908) 325-3873
Jeff Simmons

Anat Gerstein, Inc.
(on behalf of ACCA)
(917) 673-0024

New York and Montvale, N.J. – Economic confidence is at its lowest point around the world for four years after a sharp drop in business sentiment in the third quarter of 2015, according to the latest ACCA/IMA Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS), the largest economic survey of professional accountants in the world, published by ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants). The GECS report can be viewed online at

The GECS, the largest regular survey of accountants around the world, showed that finance professionals were gloomier than at any time since 2011, and that the emerging markets of the Asia Pacific region, in particular, have suffered the deepest slump.

The survey - based on 950 responses - follows concerns about the Chinese economy on which so many of them rely, along with a fresh fall in global commodity prices. More firms in the region are putting a freeze on recruitment, investment in staff is falling, and there is less optimism among finance professionals in China itself. Business confidence there is close to its lowest reading since GECS began. 

The vast majority of firms are scaling back on investment, with 44% of respondents putting a freeze on recruitment or making job cuts. More than half of surveyed firms said there were fewer profitable opportunities than six months earlier. With the notable exception of China, expectations about government spending fell around the world in the third quarter.

U.S. Confidence Dips, Future Improvement Likely

The United States continues to cast a long shadow. While the strength of the U.S. dollar was undermining the competitiveness of U.S. exporters, the decision to push back the start of its tightening cycle, possibly to next year, has given some respite to emerging market currencies at the start of the fourth quarter.

“This latest GECS report shows signs that the recovery in the U.S. could be faltering, with exports, manufacturing, and employment growth underperforming. While there was a dip in confidence, underlying economic conditions still look reasonably strong and improvement looks likely over the coming quarters,” said Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA vice president of research and policy.

The positive news is that some improvement in global business confidence looks likely in the last quarter of the year, with business conditions continuing to improve. But as the report warns, there is no shortage of potential threats to the global recovery. 

“Finance professionals around the world cannot help but to have been affected by the combination of poor data, financial turmoil, falling commodity prices, along with concerns over the two leading economies of the US and China during this quarter,” said Faye Chua, Head of Business Insights with ACCA. “While the global economy is currently built on volatile ground, there are some causes for optimism – with forecasters expecting a rise in global growth next year. But finance professionals will still need to be prepared to steer companies of all sizes through some difficult issues.”

About the GECS Survey
This is the 24th edition of the survey, and the 13th since ACCA and IMA first joined forces to conduct this research. Over the years, GECS has been covered in the international, national and local press more than 6,500 times, and its combined dataset now includes more than 42,000 responses.

ACCA and IMA share a strategic partnership, focusing on research studying the future of the global accounting profession. For more research and insights, visit The Future Today website

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. We support our 178,000 members and 455,000 students in 181 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of 92 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

About IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants)
IMA®, the association of accountants and financial professionals in business, is one of the largest and most respected associations focused exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. Globally, IMA supports the profession through research, the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program, continuing education, networking and advocacy of the highest ethical business practices. IMA has a global network of more than 75,000 members in 140 countries and 300 professional and student chapters. Headquartered in Montvale, N.J., USA, IMA provides localized services through its four global regions: The Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe, and Middle East/Africa. For more information about IMA, please

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