Conservative Outlook Prevails, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA -- Financial executives appear to be cautious, yet hopeful, in their outlook for the economy, a new nationwide survey suggests.  When chief financial officers (CFOs) were asked their opinion on the health of the economy for 2005, they ranked their level of optimism a six on a scale of one to 10.  The results are unchanged from responses given by CFOs to this question in the fourth quarter of 2004.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world’s premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis.  It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees.

CFOs were asked, “On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being ‘very optimistic’ and one being ‘very pessimistic,’ how do you feel about the health of the economy for 2005?”  The mean response was six.

“Business activity is accelerating for many companies as the economy shows signs of sustainable growth,” said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.  “But executives remain conservative, their enthusiasm tempered by memories of the recent years’ downturn.” 

CFOs at small companies are more optimistic than their counterparts at large corporations, survey results show.  Nearly one-fourth (24 percent) of executives at firms with 50 to 99 employees rated their level of optimism for the economy’s health in 2005 at the high end of the scale, between eight and 10.  This same range was given by 16 percent of CFOs at companies with 1,000 or more employees.  

Robert Half Management Resources has more than 100 offices throughout North America, Europe and Australia, and offers online job search services at



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