Despite global economic uncertainty, Canadian CFOs forecast a strong year ahead

Executives increase spending and investments to support top-line growth according to new survey from American Express

TORONTO, June 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Optimism is on the rise when it comes to economic growth, according to the sixth annual American Express/CFO Research Global Business & Spending Monitor. The Monitor, a survey of senior finance executives from the U.S., Europe, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Australia, found that fifty per cent of Canada's finance executives plan to support top-line growth this year, while improving profitability through modest spending and investment. Additionally, 31 per cent plan to increase real spending and investment by more than 10 per cent, compared to only 17 per cent of CFOs in the U.S.

The Monitor highlighted further differences between Canadian CFOs and their U.S. counterparts when it comes to optimism. Only 9 per cent of Canadian CFOs expect political gridlock and uncertainty to negatively affect economic growth in Canada, compared to half (50%) of financial executives in the U.S.,  who are bracing themselves for the effects that the European recession and political uncertainty will have on their economy. The confidence seen among Canadian executives appears to be impacting their planning cycles as well, with nearly two thirds (63%) of Canadian CFOs claiming they have not shortened their planning horizon in response to increased market volatility in the past two years. Another 47 per cent say it's unlikely for them to do so in the next year.

 "With many markets shortening their planning cycles in response to political and economic conditions, it's extremely encouraging to this level of confidence and optimism in our market," says Paul Parisi, Vice President & General Manager, Global Corporate Payments, American Express Canada. "The results indicate that Canadian CFOs are still looking ahead at long term opportunities for growth and spending rather than merely trying to survive in the short term."

There is also a strong indication that Canadian CFOs will focus on both local and international expansion. The Monitor shows that over half of Canadian finance executives (53%) will focus primarily on increasing sales within the domestic market, yet the expansion into emerging markets remains lucrative. Eighty four per cent of Canadian Finance executives planning to expand global activities in the next year with the majority expanding operations into China (56%), India (41%) and Brazil (34%). Comparatively, more than a quarter (26%) of U.S. executives do not plan to expand globally this year.

The evolving role of CFOs in Canada

As companies expand and grow, it appears that Canadian CFOs are taking a more prominent and strategic role. Forty three per cent of Canadian CFOs say the experience of the recent global economic downturn has enhanced their influence within their respective organizations, with 44 per cent saying they have become more of a strategist when it comes to decision making. Looking ahead, over half of the Canadian CFOs surveyed believe that encouraging innovation will be their greatest contribution to enabling growth over the next two years.

"Finance executives are taking the lessons learned in the downturn to further shape their role in the company," says Parisi. "They are looking at their business with a more strategic lens to ensure that they are helping to lay the foundation for growth and innovation in years to come."

 A Global Snapshot

European Markets

While Canadian finance executives up their spending and investments, the prolonged economic recession is hampering enthusiasm in some other developed markets.  Spain and France had the lowest expectations for economic growth at 39 per cent and 43 per cent respectively. In fact, the European malaise is impacting Russia, which is considered an emerging market, yet tracked more closely to its geographic neighbours, likely due to economic ties with euro zone members. Rather than sharing the optimism of their fellow emerging economies, only 39 per cent of those executives predict growth for Russia.

Emerging Markets

Senior financial executives in emerging markets see the most robust opportunities for growth over the next 12 months with 75 per cent predicting economic expansion in their respective countries. Several emerging markets surveyed reported exuberant expectations for economic growth:

  • 100 per cent of respondents in Brazil
  • 94 per cent of respondents in China
  • 81 per cent of respondents in Mexico
  • 78 per cent of respondents in India

The consensus for growth in Brazil is remarkable.  However, perhaps due to recent concerns about inflation and lagging production, Brazilian executives appear to be adjusting planning horizons.  81 per cent say they are likely to shorten their planning cycles in response to increased market volatility.

"Despite the European recession, we're seeing a blend of overall optimism regarding the economy," said Parisi. "As we increase investments in booming emerging markets we're offsetting economic uncertainty in Europe, giving Canadian executives the confidence to plan for growth long-term."

About American Express Global Corporate Payments

American Express Corporate Payment Solutions provide the Corporate Card, Corporate Purchasing Solutions, and other expense management services to midsize companies and large corporations worldwide. For more information, visit americanexpress.com/corporate.

About American Express in Canada 
American Express in Canada operates as Amex Bank of Canada and Amex Canada Inc. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the New York based American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of the American Express Company. Amex Bank of Canada is the issuer of American Express charge and credit cards, with outstanding products like the American Express(r) Gold Rewards Card, and the American Express(r) AeroplanPlus(r) Gold Card. Amex Canada Inc. operates the Corporate Travel and Travellers Cheques divisions in Canada. American Express opened its first offices in Toronto and Hamilton in 1853 and now employs 3,700 Canadians coast-to-coast. For more information, visit AmericanExpress.ca or connect with us atFacebook.com/AmericanExpressCanada.

About CFO Research Services
CFO Research Services is the sponsored research group of CFO Publishing LLC, which produces CFO magazine, CFO.com, and CFO Conferences. CFO Publishing, a portfolio company of Seguin Partners, is the leading business-to-business media brand focused on the information needs of senior finance executives. CFO Publishing has long-standing relationships with more than 500,000 finance executives.

SOURCE: American Express

For further information:

April Brown
On behalf of American Express Canada
416-644-1793
April.brown@highroad.com

Kate Weersink
On behalf of American Express Canada
416-644-2241
Kate.weersink@highroad.com

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