As we come to the end of what has been a tumultuous year by anyone’s standards, the primary concern for CFOs this quarter is the US election. In Deloitte’s Q3 CFO Signals™ survey, 87% of respondents said they believe that their organization’s future performance depends at least somewhat on the outcome of the presidential election, with many citing increased uncertainty around international trade, government spending, and tax policies.
This concern has led many to delay investment. The latest CFO Global Business Outlook survey from Duke University found that, regardless of who wins, at least 33% of CFOs will hold back investment until they see how either candidate will govern, while 26% of all US firms said they are already delaying investment because of the election.
However, compared to last quarter, CFOs appear to be more optimistic. 46% of CFOs describe the North American economy as good or very good, up from last quarter’s 40%. This sunny optimism is translating into significant investment into technology such as cloud platforms and analytics. Later in this issue, we look at how the finance function can embrace the Internet of Things to improve its operations.
Also in the edition, we look at where the CFO sees their career going, with many looking ahead to the CEO’s corner office. Incidentally, it appears that CFOs and CEOs are at odds when it comes to who they want to win the presidential election. In Duke’s survey, 40% of CFOs said they will hold off on investment if Hillary Clinton is elected, but only about 33% said they will do same if Donald Trump is elected. However, no CEO at any Fortune 100 company has come forward in support of Trump.
One region used to a fluid and volatile geopolitical situation is the Middle East. Later in this issue, we talk to Aakif H. Khan, CFO of Gulf Union Foods, about the challenges he has faced and how he has overcome them.
Hopefully, things calm down in 2017. There have been many lessons this year around expecting the unexpected, which should leave finance leaders in a better position next year when it comes to their planning and risk management models.
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