Chief financial officers expect to see reduced corporate tax rates, less gridlock in Congress and more spending on government infrastructure in the incoming Trump administration, according to a new survey by Deloitte.
fourth quarter 2016 CFO Signals survey also found CFOs expect the U.S. economy to improve but they’re still concerned about the economic outlook across the globe. While 66 percent of the CFOs polled by Deloitte anticipate corporate taxes to decline, 74 percent said repatriation of cash to the U.S. would become more attractive. In addition, 69 percent of the CFOs polled expect to see substantial new infrastructure investments, though a large proportion believe the national debt will rise, while 53 percent foresee meaningful immigration reform legislation.
In contrast, less than 10 percent of the CFOs polled by Deloitte believe Congress will pass trade deals with either Europe or Asia.
“As the new administration’s agenda unfolds and CFOs gain more clarity, it will be interesting to see how CFOs’ optimism and expectations change,” said Sandy Cockrell, national managing partner of Deloitte LLP’s U.S. CFO Program, in a statement. “For example, despite appearing to be fairly bullish on North America’s economy—and U.S. CFOs indicating higher optimism about their own companies’ prospects than in the last two years—there are concerns about topics, such as tax uncertainty and the possibility of a rising national debt.”
Year-over-year revenue growth expectations of 3.7 percent among the CFOs polled are down from the third quarter’s reading of 4.2 percent, among the lowest in survey history. Earnings growth expectations of 6.4 percent grew slightly from 6.1 percent in the third quarter poll but remained near their survey low.
Growth expectations of 3.6 percent in capital investment declined sharply from last quarter’s 5.6 percent and remained the second-lowest percentage in the history of the survey. Domestic hiring growth also fell from the third quarter’s strong showing of 2.3 percent to 1.3 percent, slightly beneath the two-year average.
When CFOs were polled about their expectations for their own industry in 2017, they were mostly optimistic about growth, with 54 percent expecting their revenue to grow, and more than half predicting that technology advances will be a major factor in changing both industry products and services and how their industry operates. Sixty-six percent of CFOs anticipate industry-skilled talent will be hard to acquire, while 67 percent think wage increases will be needed to secure and retain highly skilled workers.
Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.