The global financial crisis appears over, and Australian CFOs are confident they can lead the charge towards recovery, according to a new survey from CFO Research and American Express.
A survey of CFOs from across Asia, Europe and North America found that 71% of respondents across all regions expect economic expansion in their countries over the next 12 months.
“We’re seeing a significant shift to a more positive outlook among finance executives as
companies have moved from simply surviving to investing for the future,” American Express senior vice president Lisa Vehrenkamp said.
Australian CFOs are even more confident of increased demand, with 83% of executives from Australia expecting growth in the year ahead.
These results were on par with other countries in the region, such as Hong Kong (87%), Singapore (82%) and India (78%). Most of the APAC region has economies concentrated on goods exported to the end-use markets of the industrialized world, the report states.
Being further up the supply chain than their industrialized customers, they can expect to benefit from a global economic recovery the earliest.
But industrialized countries expect recovery to be more gradual. Just 66% of respondents from Germany expect growth by year-end, 64% from the US and 48% from Japan. This makes Australia uniquely confident among its industrialized peers.
Australian CFOs are also more likely to expect growth in their backyards than the rest of the industrialized world, with over 80% expecting growth in demand for their own offerings.
Because of their expectations for growth, Australian CEOs are also far more likely to take risks, with 60% agreeing that their companies will tolerate high risks in the search for high returns.
This compares to just 12% in the US, and around 22% in Europe.
Vehrenkamp said many CFOs in industrial economies are still grasping the purse-strings, and are cautious of letting go.
A combined 49% of respondents in Asia and Australia plan to increase investment in the development of new products and services, the same percentage aim to increase sales and marketing activities and 30% expect to increase M&A investment.
But Australian CFOs don’t plan to spend wildly – a massive 88% of respondents expect their companies to focus closely on cost control throughout the long-term.