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September 28, 2023

Talent Retakes the Top Spot as the Biggest Concern for CPA Decision Makers in AICPA Survey

worried business guy

Journal of Accountancy has written about the results of the Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey from AICPA & CIMA, a quarterly effort that takes the temperature of CPA decision-makers — mostly CFOs, CEOs, and controllers — to find out what they think about business and economic challenges inside and out of their organization.

The headline: Inflation no longer the top challenge for CPA decision-makers, survey shows

Whew, finally.

45 percent of respondents are optimistic about their business, up from 35 percent in the last survey. Almost a third (29 percent) are optimistic about the US economy, a huge jump from 14 percent last quarter. Respondents’ outlook on the global economy remains a bit low but improving; 17 percent of respondents are optimistic, up from 11 percent last quarter.

Increased optimism about the economy aside, concerns about inflation and interest rates are influencing a “measured approach to hiring.”

Half of respondents say their organizations have the right number of employees, up four percentage points from the second quarter. One-fourth say they plan to add workers, and 14% say they would like to hire but are hesitant to do so, down from 17% who expressed that hesitancy in the second quarter.

One obstacle in leaders’ hiring plans is finding workers. Availability of skilled personnel is now the No. 1 challenge leaders face — moving up three spots from the second quarter and knocking inflation out of the top spot, which it held for seven consecutive quarters. The rest of the top five challenges this quarter are inflation, domestic economic conditions, employee and benefits costs, and staff turnover.

Compare this to last quarter’s JofA write-up:

Views on hiring have shifted slightly since last quarter, too. Forty-six percent of respondents believe they have the right number of employees, up 1 point from the first quarter. Hesitancy to hire saw a 6-point jump to 17%, and 26% have plans to boost their workforce, a decrease from 33% in the first quarter.

This is the first time in more than a year that inflation has not been the biggest concern for these decision-makers.

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