Management accounting

Not since 2007 have U.S. accountants in industry felt as optimistic about the future of their companies and the state of the domestic economy as they do now.

While concerns about regulatory requirements linger, and some companies remain hesitant to deploy cash or hire, those potential obstacles can’t stem the rising tide of optimism regarding U.S. businesses’ next 12 months. That’s what the numbers show in the third-quarter AICPA Business & Industry Economic Outlook Survey, available at

Since the third quarter of 2012, optimism about the U.S. economy has risen from 22% to 52%. Optimism about finance professionals’ own companies has risen from 44% to 65% in that span.

Across sectors, companies are optimistic that they will grow revenue, profits, and head count in the next 12 months. Revenue is expected to rise 4.4% in the coming 12 months; profit is projected to rise 3.6%; and head count is projected to rise 1.8%. Each indicator reached its highest level since 2007.

The survey measures the sentiment of more than 1,100 high-ranking finance professionals—mainly CEOs, CFOs, and controllers—in nine areas: U.S. economic optimism, organization optimism, expansion plans, revenue, profits, employment, IT spending, training and development, and other capital spending.

Those components make up the CPA Outlook Index, which hit 74, the highest mark since the first quarter of 2007. An index rating above 50 indicates a positive outlook.

All nine components in the index have increased by at least four points in the past year, led by an eight-point rise in planned spending for training and development.


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