Indian CFOs plan to increase spend to support topline growth in 2019: American Express Global Survey

Senior finance executives remain optimistic about the economy, the outlook for their companies and their investments for the future, according to the 2019 Global Business and Spending Outlook, a survey released by American Express and Institutional Investor Thought Leadership Studio.

This optimism can be seen in their spending outlook:

* 83 per cent CFOs are looking at moderate to aggressive increase in spending and investment this year to support topline growth

* 33 per cent CFOs expect their company's spending and investment worldwide to change by 10 per cent or more this year

* 90 per cent of Indian CFOs believe that improving cash and working-capital management will be more important this year as compared to last

* 67 per cent Indian CFOs expect improved use of credit to yield a substantial financial benefit

* 57 per cent of Indian CFOs are likely to increase their investments in improving administrative process efficiency this year. The focus on efficiently managing bottom-line spending is evident in the increase from 40 per cent voting this as an investment priority last year

* 96 per cent of CFOs plan to spend more or the same amount this year on financial reporting and compliance services

* Travel and entertainment (T & E) continues to be a sizeable part of companies' spending, with 77 per cent Indian finance executives planning to increase their spend or invest the same amount on T & E this year

* Compared to five years ago, 57 per cent of Indian CFOs find the information received on T & E spending more informative and transparent

"Indian firms are gearing up to efficiently manage their spending and investment this year with a keen eye on the future", said Manoj Adlakha, CEO - American Express India.

"While they balance spending to drive top-line growth with profitability, they are pressing ahead with plans to take advantage of demographic and economic changes to stay relevant and competitive in the next 5-10 years", he added.

Indian companies continue to grow; 87 per cent of companies surveyed in India report higher or much higher revenue in the last 12 months, as compared to 43 per cent last year. This number is notably higher than the worldwide (65 per cent) and Asia average (63 per cent) for this year.

Top priorities of Indian CFOs as they seek to 'Future-Proof' their businesses

* CFOs in India and worldwide continue to prioritise the business goal of 'better meeting customer needs', with 57 per cent of Indian CFOs voting it as among their top business priorities

* 'Improving financial returns to owners or shareholders' is equally important for Indian CFOs, with 57 per cent voting it as among their most important business goal with a significant increase from 27 per cent last year

* 'Remaining competitive with other companies' (43 per cent) and 'pursuing business transformation and innovation' (40 per cent) and 'entering new markets' (27 per cent) are the other important priorities on their radar

Outlook on the external environment remains positive

* In terms of their confidence in the nation's economy, 80 per cent of Indian respondents expect a substantial or modest economic expansion in the year ahead, substantially higher than their global peers at 71 per cent

* Economic expansion expectations remain highest in the Asia/Australia region (79 per cent, down from 94 per cent last year) and lowest in Latin America (43 per cent, down from 52 per cent last year)

* Indian CFOs continue having a positive outlook towards global trade policy, with 63 per cent of Indian CFOs expecting global trade policy to strengthen their company's growth prospects

"I feel CFOs today play a critical role in the long-term strategic planning and health of the company. In fact, one of the findings in the survey is that 73 per cent of Indian CFOs collaborate most closely with the board of directors. This is testimony to the increasingly important and strategic role CFOs play, as they navigate organizational spending in line with economic drivers and influences", said Manoj Adlakha, CEO - American Express India.


The 2019 Global Business and Spending Outlook was conducted by Institutional Investor Thought Leadership Studio (IITLS) and is based on a survey of 901 senior finance executives from companies around the world with annual revenues of $500 million or more.

In total, 180 CFOs and other senior finance executives from Asia and 30 from companies in India participated in the study. All survey responses were gathered in late November and December 2018. IITLS estimates the margin of error for the survey to be approximately +/-3.2 per cent at a 95 per cent level of confidence.

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