The Economy

Executives Down on Growth Prospects for 2016

Those polled by AICPA expect lower revenue and profit growth next year, reflecting rising concern about economic conditions and domestic competition.
Katie Kuehner-HebertDecember 4, 2015

Business executives are pessimistic about the growth prospects next year for both their own companies and the overall U.S. economy, according to the fourth-quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey.

The overall expectation for revenue growth next year was 2.9%, down from 3.3% last quarter and 4.7% a year ago, the survey found. Profits are expected to grow 2%, down from 2.6% percent last quarter and almost half the rate from a year ago.

The American Institute of CPAs polls chief executive officers, CFOs, controllers, and other certified public accountants in U.S. companies who hold executive and senior management accounting roles.

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Only 53% of survey respondents expressed optimism about their organization’s anticipated performance for the coming year, down from 59% last quarter and 67% a year ago. Optimism about the U.S. economy also fell since last quarter, although at a more gradual rate.

“We’re seeing rising concern about U.S. economic conditions and domestic competition,” Arleen R. Thomas, AICPA’s senior vice president of management accounting and global markets, said in a news release. “Those factors, coupled with a potential slowdown in the global economy, have contributed to a perception that growth opportunities are going to be more challenging in the near-term.”

However, CPAs were more bullish on hiring, according to the survey.

About 18% of the respondents said their companies are looking to hire immediately, the same as last quarter. There was a slight drop in the percentage of respondents who said they had too few employees but were hesitant to hire (20% last quarter, compared with 17% this quarter). Overall, 53% of respondents said their companies had the right amount of staffing.

The CPA Outlook Index  a comprehensive gauge of executive sentiment within the AICPA survey  fell two points in the fourth quarter to 69, the fourth consecutive drop from the post-recession high of 78 in the fourth quarter of 2014. The index is a composite of nine, equally weighted survey measures set on a scale of 0 to 100, with 50 considered neutral and higher numbers signifying positive sentiment.