IMA-ACCA Survey Reports Drop in U.S. Business Confidence Despite Increases in Jobs and Investments

Ryan Bartholomew
Stern + Associates (for IMA)
(908) 276-4344 x 221

Jeff Simmons
Anat Gerstein, Inc. (for ACCA)

Largest economic survey of its kind finds fallout from government shutdown still dampening mood, confidence low over emerging market fears

New York and Montvale, N.J.– According to the latest quarterly survey of domestic and international finance professionals, United States business confidence dropped in the fourth quarter of 2013. In addition, the U.S. emerged as one of the least optimistic of the world’s major economies, according to the Q4 2013 Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS), conducted by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (the Institute of Management Accountants). The full survey can be viewed at

This result comes despite a strong reported increase in opportunities for business, investment and employment across the U.S., fueled by ongoing improvements in access to growth capital, stable prices and a relative dearth of alternative investment opportunities. 

Only 23 percent of U.S. respondents reported confidence gains in their own businesses in Q4 – a drop from 25 percent in the previous quarter – while 35 percent reported losses, up from 31 percent. Accordingly, U.S. optimism about the state of the economy also fell seven percent.

“What we are seeing in the U.S. and some other markets around the world is a series of good business indicators, such as improved investment and job creation, but low confidence levels in their own business prospects,” said Emmanouil Schizas, ACCA senior economic analyst. “Finance professionals can see the improvements on paper, but this hasn’t impacted their optimism. These puzzling results might be partly due to concerns over the recent problems faced by many emerging markets.”

Schizas added, “That pessimism reflects how U.S. finance professionals view the overall economy. What happens over the next year will be a clearer indicator as to whether this confidence slump is a blip rather than a longer term problem.”

The substantial increase in business capacity-building, including investment and employment in the U.S. was offset by a lack of improvement in demand and cash-flow conditions in Q4 2013, breaking a strong, year-long trend.

“At the industry level, results from the U.S. point to continued structural rebalancing, although perhaps not in the manner that policymakers or industry might have chosen,” said Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA vice president of research. “The manufacturing and engineering sectors encountered positive business confidence for the first time in nearly two years, but the IT and high-tech sectors saw a disappointing final quarter, ending a year-long period of gains in confidence.”

Globally, the survey revealed that finance professionals had more faith in the strength of the economic recovery in Q4 2013 than at any time over the last five years. Indeed, 55 percent believed conditions were improving or about to do so, up from 53 percent in the Q3 2013, while only 42 percent felt economic conditions were deteriorating or stagnating, down from 43 percent.

However, when it came to their own organizations, finance professionals’ confidence still fell marginally in Q4 2013. About 30 percent reported confidence gains, up from 28 percent, but there were more respondents reporting losses in confidence (35 percent), up from 32 percent in Q3. Despite this, the Q4 2013 results still represent the second-strongest year-on-year confidence gains since mid-2010. 

The ACCA and IMA joint website,, is a resource for finance leaders containing ACCA and IMA reports, research and insights.

About ACCA
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants with 162,000 members and 426,000 students in 170 countries worldwide. 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 work through a network of 89 offices and centres and more than 8,400 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. For more information, visit

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 65,000 members in 120 countries and 300 professional and student chapter communities. IMA provides localized services through its offices in Montvale, N.J., USA; Zurich, Switzerland; Dubai, UAE; and Beijing, China. For more information about IMA, please visit

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