Pessimism at highest level since Q1 2009: CPA Canada Business Monitor

TORONTO, Jan. 28, 2016 /CNW/ - Pessimism about the prospects of the Canadian economy among professional accountants in leadership positions climbed sharply, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

Half of the business leaders surveyed in the final quarter of 2015, as part of the latest CPA Canada Business Monitor, were pessimistic about how the national economy will perform over the next 12 months. In the previous quarter, 40 per cent of the professional accountants surveyed expressed a pessimistic outlook. To put things into perspective, pessimism hasn't been running this high in the quarterly research since the first quarter of 2009 when it stood at 83 per cent.

Optimism levels were 13 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year compared with 17 per cent the previous quarter. Almost four in ten respondents (38 per cent) were neutral about the prospects for the Canadian economy over the coming months.

Oil prices remained the number one challenge to the Canadian economy cited by 39 per cent of survey participants. The next highest response was uncertainty about the Canadian economy referenced by 21 per cent of the respondents.

"Uncertainty dominates," said Kevin Dancey, president and CEO, CPA Canada. "For many respondents, that uncertainty represents strengthening storm clouds. It's hard to chart a course for success without clarity and right now there is no clear indication when the ramifications associated with low oil prices and the resulting insecurity will ease."

Company specific

Company optimism was 38 per cent in Q4 2015 but pessimism was close behind at 31 per cent. These findings are how the professional accountants surveyed view the prospects for their own companies over the next 12 months. Previously, company optimism had ranged between 46 and 53 per cent for the last four quarters.

Focusing on revenues, 51 per cent of the respondents were projecting growth over the next 12 months, compared with 57 per cent in the third quarter of 2015. For profits, 48 per cent of those surveyed anticipate an increase. This marks the first time since Q2 2009 that fewer than 50 per cent of those surveyed were forecasting a rise in profits.

Turning to employee numbers, the percentage of those who expect an increase is basically identical to the number of respondents anticipating a decrease. Thirty-one per cent of the survey participants are predicting growth at their company over the next 12 months while 30 per cent are expecting a decline. Thirty-eight per cent of the respondents forecast no change while the rest did not know.

In terms of priorities for their companies, the top response was increasing sales within Canada, identified by 25 per cent of respondents. The next two most referenced priorities were reducing costs (18 per cent) and improving productivity (12 per cent).


The CPA Canada Business Monitor is issued quarterly, based on a survey commissioned by CPA Canada and conducted by Harris Poll. The report draws upon business insights of professional accountants in leadership positions in privately and publicly held companies.

For the Q4 2015 study, emailed surveys were completed by 512 of 5,760 members identified by CPA Canada as holding senior positions in industry (CFOs, CEOs, COOs and other leadership roles). The response rate was 9 per cent, with a margin of error associated with this type of study at ± 4.2 per cent, with a confidence level of 95 per cent. The survey was conducted from December 9 to December 23, 2015.  A background document is available online at

About CPA Canada
The new Canadian designation, Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), is now used by Canada's accounting profession across the country. The profession's national body, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), is one of the largest in the world with more than 200,000 members, both at home and abroad. The Canadian CPA was created with the unification of three legacy accounting designations (CA, CGA and CMA). CPAs are valued for their financial and tax expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, management skills and leadership. CPA Canada conducts research into current and emerging business issues and supports the setting of accounting, auditing and assurance standards for business, not-for-profit organizations and government. CPA Canada also issues guidance and thought leadership on a variety of technical matters, publishes professional literature and develops education and professional certification programs.


For further information: Tobin Lambie, Principal, Media, CPA Canada, T: 416-204-3228, C: 647-302-3761,; Diana Sorace, Manager, Media Relations, CPA Canada, T: 604-694-6700, C: 604-551-4487,


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