How the U.S. presidential election is shaping business decisions

By Neil Amato

While the presidential election is still many months away, it is already shaping CPA executives’ view of the future, however slightly, according to survey data released Wednesday by the AICPA.

About 64% say the election will factor into business planning for the next fiscal year to some extent. Twenty-six percent say the election is a slight factor, 23% say it will be a moderate factor, and 15% say it will significantly factor into business planning, budgeting, or forecasting. Thirty-six percent say the election is not a factor in their business plans for the next fiscal year.

More than 80% of CFOs, controllers, and other CPA executives say they will continue hiring at their current pace or that the election will not factor into hiring.

The data come from 540 responses to a survey conducted Feb. 9–24. In that survey, CPA decision-makers expressed growing pessimism about the economy.

The presidential election is Nov. 8; major-party candidates will be officially nominated at the Democratic and Republican conventions in July.

Potential outcomes of the election were tied for fourth on a list of items likely to have an impact on planning, budgeting, and forecasting in the next fiscal year. First on that list was general economic conditions, followed by industry or sector outlook and interest rates and borrowing costs. The election outcome was tied with the strength of the dollar in terms of impact.

The election appears to have little effect on job creation: 56% said it was not a factor in hiring, and 25% said they would continue to hire at their current pace. Thirteen percent planned to defer hiring until after the election, and 5% said they would reduce hiring until after the election.

About half, 53%, said the election was not a factor in capital expenditures or spending on business expansion, and 27% said they would continue spending on those areas at their current pace. Ten percent said they would defer such spending until after the election, and 8% said they would reduce spending.

Neil Amato (namato@aicpa.org) is a JofA senior editor.

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