CFOs are Optimistic on 2014 Company Performance, Despite Bleak View of US Economy

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National survey of Chief Financial Officers Illustrates CFO Role Evolving to Meet High Performance Expectations Amongst US Companies

The CFO Alliance – a global community of senior financial leaders and decision makers, promoting connectivity and knowledge sharing amongst leading financial executives – along with national partner and contributor Drinker Biddle & Reath, today released the 2014 CFO Sentiment and Planning Study. The annual study surveyed a broad sample of 502 senior financial executives across the United States, providing insights into the strategic planning and financial outlook of CFOs across the country.

Findings indicate that despite more than two-thirds (70 percent) reporting a pessimistic view of the U.S. economy, CFOs are optimistic concerning how their companies will perform in 2014 – 75 percent anticipated higher top line revenue and 64 percent report increased margin growth in 2014.

The survey findings include valuable insights regarding how CFOs plan to deliver on optimistic expectations in the face of what they view as macro-economic headwinds:

  •     The evolution of the CFO role will accelerate in 2014, with 79 percent reporting that their role will change materially from 2013. Such changes include a greater involvement in matters related to corporate direction, strategy and increasing long-term shareholder value, broader organizational responsibility and increased operational responsibility.
  •     Growth strategy for 2014 includes looking beyond organic growth to deliver company growth with a majority of CFOs ranking channels such as M&A activity as a top priority to driving growth. Additionally, more than half (53 percent) report they will drive growth in 2014 by becoming more customer centric, including through improving responsiveness and a greater focus on meeting customer expectations.
  •     Economic conditions and uncertainty over government regulations continue to be factors influencing business strategy. Only US economic conditions top the Affordable Care Act (ACA) among global and political issues that respondents expect to influence 2014 company budgets. Forty-four percent report US economic conditions as having the greatest impact on 2014 budget forecasts, while 21 percent cite the ACA as being the most important factor.

“We are delighted to provide our members and the broader business community with insight into the issues and factors that are not only influencing 2014 budgets and strategic plans, but will drive successful execution,” said Nick Araco, President & CEO of The CFO Alliance. “Examining the actual levers that CFOs will pull in order to maximize shareholder value in 2014 from tactical leadership strategies to growth channel optimization is extraordinarily valuable in allowing CFOs to benchmark their own company’s budgets and strategic plans to drive results in 2014. The depth of this survey in addition to the respondent scope is what sets the 2014 CFO Sentiment and Planning Study apart from other surveys which target responses from senior finance leaders.”

The 2014 CFO Sentiment Study was conducted by the CFO Alliance over the months of November and December, 2013. A broad sample of senior finance leaders predominantly from middle-market U.S. based organizations were invited to respond to the web-based survey; 502 participated. Most questions asked for a response on a 5-point scale. The standard error of measurement was approximately 0.11. The study can be viewed at


Established in 2008 to promote connectivity through a professional community of leading financial executives, The CFO Alliance brings together the experience, knowledge, and collective wisdom of peers, subject matter experts, and academic authorities to enable senior financial leaders and decision makers to be more effective and act with greater confidence throughout their career. By fostering relationships among those with common objectives, interests, opportunities, and challenges, financial leaders can make long-term investments in their companies and their careers through sharing expertise and gaining confidence in their roles. Based on the success in Philadelphia, PA, the CFOA has established and executed a national expansion, with over 4,000 Members now participating in face-to-face and online discussions, collaboration and exchange. For more information, please visit and follow The CFO Alliance Community on Twitter @theCFOAlliance.

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP is a national law firm with 650 lawyers in 11 offices providing client service in areas such as intellectual property, commercial litigation, communications litigation, corporate and securities, corporate restructuring, employee benefits and executive compensation, environment and energy, government and regulatory affairs, health care, insurance coverage, investment management, labor and employment, life insurance and annuities, products liability and mass tort litigation, private client services, and real estate.

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Rebecca Kelley

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