Deloitte's 19th Annual CFO Vision Conference: CFOs Express Pessimism on US Political Climate, Anticipate Effects of Interest Rate Hikes

Polling of large company CFOs also reveals cautious optimism on company prospects and planning for impacts of generational workforce trends

21 Dec, 2015, 11:33 ET from Deloitte

NEW YORK, Dec. 21, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Chief financial officers believe the polarized political climate observed from both elected officials and the public is real and lasting and continue to express little hope for progress in Washington, D.C., according to polling data obtained from large company CFOs attending Deloitte's 19th annual CFO Vision conference.

When asked about their views on the political climate today, a strong majority (83 percent) of CFOs polled said that the polarization observed in both elected officials and the general public is authentic and long-lasting. Almost as many, 81 percent, did not believe the recent election of Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House would mark the beginning of greater productivity in Congress, with 61 percent of those respondents agreeing the problem is more systemic than can be addressed by the election of a new House Speaker.

Attending CFOs were also polled on what external event would have the biggest impact on their companies in 2016. The number one answer was interest rate hikes (44 percent) followed by exchange rate movements (29 percent). The other three options – China's economic slowdown, oil prices and geopolitical risks – all tied for third place at 9 percent each.

"CFOs we polled last year after the mid-term elections were pessimistic about progress in Washington, D.C., and this year they continue to express doubts about Congressional productivity. A substantial majority of respondents believe the polarization we have seen from elected officials is here to stay," said Sanford A. Cockrell III, national managing partner, Deloitte LLP and global leader of Deloitte's CFO Program. "Beyond Congress, with the Federal Reserve's recent decision to raise the federal funds rate, CFOs are concerned about the effects of interest hikes on their companies."

Compared with the three months prior, 45 percent of CFOs polled at the CFO Vision conference expressed rising optimism about the financial prospects for their own companies, while 24 percent thought their company prospects were somewhat or significantly worse. The net optimism of +21 represents a rise from the most recent "Deloitte CFO Signals™" survey for 3Q 2015 released on Sept. 29, when net optimism came in at +14. CFOs will next weigh in on the financial prospects for their companies in the 4Q 2015 CFO Signals survey, the results of which will be released publicly on January 12, 2016.

Polling from the Deloitte CFO Vision conference also found that talent remains a priority for CFOs. The top two generational trends CFOs say they have prepared the most for are the pending retirement of baby boomers and different working styles of millennials (30 percent each).

The conference, held Nov. 11-13 in the District of Columbia, was attended by 82 CFOs from some of America's largest organizations, addressed key CFO-centric topics, including the outlook for the U.S. and global economies, leadership, capital markets, finance talent, regulatory updates, global economics and shareholder activism. Conference attendees also heard an address from Stanley McChrystal, former commander, U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and co-founder and leader of McChrystal Group, and attended a panel featuring 2015 Women's World Cup champions Jill Ellis, Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach.

About Deloitte's CFO Program
The CFO Program brings together a multidisciplinary team of Deloitte leaders and subject matter specialists to help CFOs stay ahead in the face of growing challenges and demands. The Program harnesses our organization's broad capabilities to deliver forward thinking and fresh insights for every stage of a CFO's career – helping CFOs manage the complexities of their roles, tackle their organization's most compelling challenges, and adapt to strategic shifts in the market. For more information about Deloitte's CFO Program, please contact uscfoprogram@deloitte.com or visit www.deloitte.com/us/thecfoprogram.

About Deloitte
Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world's most admired brands, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500. Our people work across more than 20 industry sectors to deliver measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to make their most challenging business decisions with confidence, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthy society.

As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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