Management accounting

Businesses show a sustained desire to spend on technology and employee training while expecting profits to increase—signs that economic sentiment among U.S. finance professionals is improving.

Respondents in the AICPA Business & Industry U.S. Economic Outlook Survey previously have projected rising profits. Until now, that expectation hasn’t been mixed with much optimism about hiring and training workers and investing in IT or other capital projects.

Optimism reached post-recession highs on several fronts in the survey, which captured the opinions of 867 CPA decision-makers, mainly CEOs, CFOs, and controllers in business and industry.

The CPA Outlook Index, a measure of nine equally weighted factors, rose to 70—the highest mark in six years. The rating is up one point from the previous quarter and up four points from the previous year. All nine components of the index, most notably U.S. economic optimism, have risen on a year-over-year basis.

In the survey, optimists about the U.S. economy outnumber the pessimists 49% to 20%, with 31% neutral. A year ago, 32% of respondents were optimistic about the U.S. economy. Factors cited most often by the optimists in the latest quarter include employment, consumer spending, and political/leadership improvement.

Finance professionals feel even better about their own businesses: 59% are optimistic or very optimistic, compared with 12% who are pessimistic or very pessimistic. A year ago, 50% expressed optimism about their companies.

More information on the survey is available at


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