Business Executives Optimistic Heading into 2015

Nearly two-thirds of business executives are optimistic heading into 2015, according to a new survey by the American Institute of CPAs.

Nearly two-thirds of business executives are optimistic heading into 2015, according to a new survey by the American Institute of CPAs.

AICPA’s latest Economic Outlook Survey found 64% of CEOs, CFOs, controllers, and other CPAs believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months. That’s up from 52% last quarter and 38% one year ago, according to the institute.

“The number of executives who say they are planning to hire immediately has gone from 13% a year ago to 23% this quarter,” said Arleen R. Thomas, CPA, CGMA, the institute’s senior vice president of management accounting and global markets. “As clouds lift on the economy, companies are shifting back into growth mode.”

The survey is in line with other recent news. A Wells Fargo survey released Friday found optimism among small business owners to be at the highest levels since 2008. Meanwhile, CNN reported that the 321,000 jobs added in November put the US on track to have its best annual job gains since 1999.

However, the job gains are also making it tougher to recruit the right talent, according to the AICPA survey. Respondents said their second-biggest challenge is finding qualified job candidates, with nearly two-thirds said they are seeing increased competition for qualified candidates. More than one-third say they’ve increased their salary offers to better compete for workers.

AICPA’s overall CPA Outlook Index—a measure of executive sentiment—grew to 78%, a post-recession high.

AICPA said based on its findings, headcount should rise by 2.1% in the next year, and spending on training will increase by a similar amount—2.2%.

The survey also asked about inflation and deflation. Fear of inflation fell from 38% to 27% this quarter, but fears of deflation doubled, from 5% to 10%.