ACCA survey: accountants’ confidence on a downward slide

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A survey conducted by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) reveals that confidence among accountants and finance professionals globally has declined for the third consecutive quarter. The latest Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) indicates that while a major economic downturn is not imminent, there are risks and challenges that need to be monitored.

The survey shows a mix of regional trends, with North America experiencing a significant rise in confidence due to increased optimism regarding the ability of the US Federal Reserve to achieve a soft landing in 2024. In contrast, both Western Europe and Asia-Pacific witnessed a decline in confidence, reflecting concerns about the economic outlook and the recovery in China. Africa also saw a sharp fall in confidence, erasing the gains made earlier in 2023.

Economic risks, talent retention, and regulatory change were identified as the top three risk priorities for accountancy professionals. Geopolitics has also moved up the ranks of risk priorities, highlighting the increasing concerns surrounding global political dynamics. The survey also revealed that those in the financial services sector view geopolitical risks through the lens of cybersecurity, while the corporate sector perceives them more as ‘business-critical’ risks, such as supply chain disruption.

The survey indicates that concerns among accountants about increased costs have eased slightly, but remain elevated by historical standards. This suggests that financial market expectations may be too optimistic regarding the timing and magnitude of central bank rate cuts in 2024. Overall, the findings of the survey are consistent with a further slowing of the global economy.

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