Nearly half (49 percent) of the senior finance professionals polled believe that the economy will experience slow but consistent growth over the next year, compared to just 9.5 percent who expressed that view this time last year. In contrast, only 6.6 pecent believe things will get worse before they get better, a big decline from 2012 when 23 percent anticipated worse times ahead.
However, while many FDs are already expressing cautious optimism, only 3.3 percent expect strong growth in the next 12 months.
The brighter economic outlook is a reflection of more positive business conditions experienced by FDs during the year to date. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) have experienced opportunities for their business to grow market share organically in 2013, while more than half (53 percent) have experienced opportunities to grow through acquisition.
In addition, many of the major difficulties experienced by business over the last five years are not quite so problematic now. For example, only 2.5 percent of FDs reported significantly reduced availability of bank finance, compared to 17 percent last year, and only 2.9 percent are seeing significantly worse terms for finance compared to 20 percent last year.
Despite improving economic confidence, the spectre of redundancies still looms large over the economy. A quarter (25 percent) of FDs are anticipating redundancies within their organisation this year, only a marginal decline from 27 percent who expected the same last year.
Whilst FD views differ widely about whether responsibility for restoring confidence lies with government measures or the private sector’s actions, one thing has remained constant from 2012. The most popular solution for restoring economic confidence is for banks to lend more. The second most popular answer this year was tax cuts for individuals followed by cutting red tape.