CFO optimism about economy at three-year low but firms still investing to grow

Chief financial officers in Singapore are less confident about Singapore's economic performance than they have been in three years, according to a new survey.
Chief financial officers in Singapore are less confident about Singapore's economic performance than they have been in three years, according to a new survey. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Chief financial officers (CFOs) and other senior executives in Singapore are less confident about Singapore's economic performance than they have been in three years, a new survey has found.

The online survey by American Express and research group CFO Research also found that many executives are planning to spend more just to stay ahead of competition in 2016.

The survey, which covered senior finance and corporate executives from 15 countries, found that business leaders in China, Hong Kong and Singapore reported the biggest fall in confidence.

Only 58 per cent of Chinese leaders were confident about the performance, compared with 78 per cent last year. Hong Kong had 30 per cent of optimistic leaders, down from 50 per cent last year, while Singapore saw 60 per cent being optimistic, compared with 70 per cent last year.

Worldwide, among the business leaders surveyed, 65 per cent said they are positive about growth, down from 71 per cent last year.

Within the Asia-Pacific region, only CFOs in Australia expect the economy to do better this year than last - where 64 per cent surveyed were optimistic compared with 60 per cent in 2015.

However, Latin American's bullish growth expectation of 73 per cent topped the global charts, followed by 71 per cent in North America.