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CFO Insights: Q1 2019 CFO Signals Survey Results

Published on: Mar 28, 2019

Anticipating a slowdown (but not a recession)

In Q4 2017, CFO sentiment was riding high, buoyed by strong economic performance and prospects for lower taxes, lower health care costs, and less regulation. But something changed starting in early 2018, and by our Q4 2018 survey (following the US midterm elections), CFOs’ sentiment and expectations were becoming less optimistic, citing worries about geopolitics, US political turmoil, and trade policy.

This quarter’s findings continue the downward trend. Assessments of the North American, European, and Chinese economies all declined. Own-company optimism rebounded from last quarter’s very low reading, but still sits at its third-lowest level in three years. Expectations for revenue, earnings, domestic hiring, and wages declined (only capex rose), and all metrics sit below their two-year averages.

When asked about expectations for a possible US downturn, nearly three-fourths of the CFO respondents said they expect a deceleration of economic activity by the end of 2020, but only 15% expect an extended decline. Those expecting a downturn cited three main factors: US trade policy, the length of business and credit cycles, and slowing growth in China and Europe.

Additionally, this quarter we asked about the role diversity and inclusion (D&I) plays in companies’ talent strategies and practices, and CFOs’ answers appear to indicate substantial efforts to use D&I to strengthen their talent bases.

Explore the Q1 2019 CFO Signals survey results to learn more.

Download the CFO Signals™: 2019 Q1 executive summary.

This publication was released by our US firm.



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