New ACCA-IMA Survey Finds Global Business Optimism Tempered by Some Uncertainty
Anat Gerstein, Inc. (on behalf of ACCA)
Stern + Associates (on behalf of IMA)
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Largest Economic Survey of Financial Professionals Shows Improving Confidence Globally, Unease Lingering in US
New York and Montvale, N.J. – The global economy is showing stronger signs during the first quarter of 2015, according to the 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 survey shows that for the second quarter in a row, senior finance professionals are beginning to sense that a recovery is taking hold.
The first-quarter GECS findings, based on the views of more than 900 finance professionals around the world, show that while confidence is at the highest level among Chief Financial Officers since 2011, the recovery is still tentative. For example, the report shows a global increase in staff investment and signs of growth in employment and new orders; respondents also reported fewer problems with late payments and voiced fewer concerns about suppliers or customers going out of business.
Yet capital spending and capital investment have declined and CFOs of larger companies were more pessimistic than those working in smaller businesses – likely due to the exposure of large, international companies to uneven recovery and economic performance around the world.
Optimism for Africa, Asia, and South Asia
The biggest rise in confidence, employment, and investment was seen in Africa – likely a result of the containment of the Ebola outbreak that affected parts of the continent in 2014.
Confidence has also increased in Europe, with improvements recorded in employment and investment, although tempered by a drop in both capital expenditure and new orders.
Finance professionals in Asia and South Asia also saw the situation in their countries improve in the first quarter of 2015, although the pace of improvement has slowed slightly.
Caution in US, Middle East, and Australia
However, there were also areas that experienced continuing uncertainty. “Confidence in the US grew, but at a slower rate than in Q4 2014,” said Alan Hatfield, ACCA Executive Director of Strategy & Development. “Employment, new orders, and capital expenditure have fallen back quarter-on-quarter and although they were much higher than two years ago, responses suggested that the US in particular might not be strong enough to warrant a rise in federal interest rates.”
Finance professionals in the Middle East were concerned by political turmoil and instability in the region. And while China continues to perform well, growth here has slowed, affecting Australia’s economic outlook. Australia’s economy is closely linked to China’s and it is the first to feel any downturn in China, both in terms of its lower exports of iron ore and coal, and in terms of luxury items like wine.
“Confidence is returning to the business sector – but there is a recognition that there is still a way to go before the global economy can be said to have made a full recovery,” said Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA Vice President of Research and Policy. “Amidst improving confidence it is encouraging to see that businesses are investing in people – the key element to any future success.”
Lawson added: “However, the optimism is tempered by continuing uncertainty. Geopolitical instability in Ukraine and Russia and conflict in areas of the Middle East continue to cast long shadows over the global economy.”
About the GECS Survey
This is the 23rd edition of the survey, and the 12th 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. A review of the first five years of the survey, Five Years of the Global Economic Recovery, was published by ACCA and IMA in July 2014.
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers 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.
ACCA supports its 170,000 members and 436,000 students in 180 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 92 offices and centres and more than 8,500 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers. More information is here: www.accaglobal.com
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 visit www.imanet.org.