Soaring optimism among executive CAs, positive employment forecasts and anticipated innovation investments: CICA/RBC Business Monitor

TORONTO, May 17 /CNW/ - Sixty-four per cent of executive CAs expressed optimism about the Canadian economy in the first quarter of 2011, marking a notable increase of 23 per cent over the previous quarter, according to the latest CICA/RBC Business Monitor.

Canadian interest rates and consumer confidence were the top two reasons cited among respondents for the surge in optimism to near record levels associated with the CICA/RBC Business Monitor. In addition, 66 per cent of respondents in the first quarter survey were optimistic about their company's prospects over the next year, up 10 per cent from the previous quarter.

The good news for job seekers is that almost half (47 per cent) of respondents expect employment numbers to climb at their company over the next 12 months and 22 per cent are projecting increases of five per cent or more. Only 12 per cent of respondents anticipate that the number of employees in their company will drop, with most of the remaining respondents believing company employment numbers will remain unchanged.

"The employment prospects must be welcome news for the latest crop of university and college graduates looking to enter the workforce," says Kevin Dancey, FCA, president and CEO, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). "One positive set of findings does not make a trend, but the results are encouraging especially since executive CAs are feeling good about both the Canadian economy and their respective companies."

The survey also found that companies are investing in innovation and the executive CAs expect to see increases in revenue and profits over the next year.

    <<
    -   Innovation: Three quarters (75 per cent) of those surveyed indicated
        that their company has made changes to ensure that it performs well
        during periods of slow economic growth. Two-thirds say their company
        will make a significant investment in innovation over the next 12
        months.

    -   Revenue: Seventy-three per cent of executive CAs expected their
        company's revenues to increase in the next 12 months. This includes
        24 per cent projecting revenue increases of 10 per cent or more.

    -   Profit: Roughly seven in ten (69 per cent) executive CAs indicated
        that their company's profits will increase in the next 12 months,
        with 25 per cent projecting a profit increase of ten per cent or
        more.
    >>

"These latest results reinforce the fact that Canadian companies are ready to seize opportunities for future growth and investments," says Christianne Paris, vice-president, Business and Client Strategy, RBC. "The focus on investment in innovation is particularly promising, as this can be a key driver for opportunities in new markets."

The CICA/RBC Business Monitor is issued quarterly, based on a survey commissioned by the CICA. The report draws upon business insights of CAs in leadership positions in privately and publicly held companies across Canada. Economic optimism peaked at 67 per cent in the second quarter of 2007, but dipped to a low of two per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

For the Q1 2011 study, emailed surveys were completed by 351 CAs of 3,992 identified by the CICA as holding senior positions (CFOs, CEOs and COOs). The response rate was nine per cent, with a margin of error associated with this type of study at +/- 5.2 per cent, with a confidence level of 95 per cent. The survey was conducted by Harris/Decima from March 1 to March 24, 2011. A background document is available online at www.cicarbcbusinessmonitor.com.

About CICA

Chartered Accountants (CAs) are Canada's most valued, internationally recognized profession of leaders in senior management, advisory, financial, tax and assurance roles. Through their integrity, expertise, and internationally recognized qualification standards, Canada's 78,000 CAs sustain their influence and leadership position both in Canada and globally. As trusted business advisors to Canadian organizations of all sizes, Canada's CAs foster confidence in Canadian business and contribute to the health and sustainability of Canada's capital markets and economy. The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) represents Canada's CA profession both nationally and internationally. The CICA is a founding member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA).

About RBC

RBC delivers a wide range of financial services through a variety of channels to individuals, small and medium-sized businesses and commercial clients, including deposit accounts, investments and mutual funds, credit and debit cards, business and personal loans, and residential and commercial mortgages. It is the personal and commercial banking division of Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE).

SOURCE Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

For further information: Interviews with an official from the CICA can be arranged by contacting: Tobin Lambie, CICA, (416) 204-3228 or tobin.lambie@cica.ca; Interviews can be arranged with an official from RBC by contacting: Margie McNeil, (416) 388-3697 or margie.mcneil@rbc.com; or Elyse Lalonde, (416) 974-8810 or elyse.lalonde@rbc.com

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Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

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