Slippage in economic forecasts: CPA Canada Business Monitor

The CPA Canada Business Monitor is issued quarterly, based on a survey commissioned by CPA Canada. The report draws upon business insights of professional accountants in leadership positions in privately and publicly held companies.

TORONTO, November 20, 2014 – There is an easing of economic optimism among Canadian professional accountants in senior corporate positions, according to the latest CPA Canada Business Monitor (Q3 2014).

Optimism levels for both the Canadian economy and their own company are down slightly along with employee number forecasts when compared with the second quarter of 2014.

Almost half (48 per cent) of those surveyed for the third quarter report are optimistic about the prospects for the Canadian economy over the next 12 months compared with 56 per cent in Q2. However, just seven per cent of the respondents are pessimistic in this latest survey with the rest neutral.

Looking at their own operations, 62 per cent like the prospects for their company over the next 12 months compared with 66 per cent in the previous quarter.

“A dip in optimism is not surprising especially when you consider factors such as oil prices and global economic uncertainty along with conflict and unrest in certain regions,” explains Kevin Dancey, president and CEO, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). “It is reassuring that despite all that is happening globally, economic optimism is running ahead of where it was a year ago.”

In fact, the drop in optimism about the Canadian economy is the first in 2014. Even with the dip, it remains much higher than the same quarter last year when only 37 per cent of the respondents expressed optimism. Dancey says encouraging economic indicators south of the border are likely contributing to this but, he adds, it remains to be seen how much the positive U.S. signals are offset by other developments globally.

Revenue/Profits/Employee Numbers

Projections for revenue and profit are holding steady in the third quarter report and both are unchanged from Q2. Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of the respondents expect their revenues to grow over the next 12 months and when it comes to profits, 69 per cent are forecasting an increase.

Turning to employee numbers, 44 per cent of those surveyed are forecasting growth compared with 48 per cent the previous quarter. Thirty-nine per cent of the respondents predict no change, 16 per cent expect a drop and the rest do not know.

Employee Retention

Two-in-three respondents say that employee retention, acquisition and development are major or moderate challenges for their company.  The top actions cited to help retain staff were:

  • offering competitive compensation (89 per cent)
  • recognizing and rewarding good work (88 per cent)
  • offering competitive benefits (75 per cent)
  • promoting opportunities for advancement (75 per cent)

More than one initiative could be referenced. It is interesting to note the survey found most times there were big differences between an action referenced and the number of companies actually following through with the initiative (see online background document for more details

Half of the respondents (50 per cent) support allowing employees to work from home with just over one quarter (26 per cent) of those surveyed against it. The top three reasons cited for allowing working from home were:

  • an improvement in employee satisfaction (75 per cent)
  • improved work-life balance (70 per cent)
  • the ability to retain current employees (67 per cent)


The CPA Canada Business Monitor is issued quarterly, based on a survey commissioned by CPA Canada. The report draws upon business insights of professional accountants in leadership positions in privately and publicly held companies.

For the Q3 2014 study, emailed surveys were completed by 688 of 6,274 identified by CPA Canada as holding senior positions in industry (CFOs, CEOs, COOs and other leadership roles). The response rate was 11 per cent, with a margin of error associated with this type of study at ±3.7 per cent, with a confidence level of 95 per cent. The survey was conducted by Nielsen from September 16 to October 22, 2014.

About CPA Canada

Canada’s accounting profession is uniting under a new single designation, Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). The profession’s national body, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), represents and supports more than 190,000 members across the country. CPAs are valued for their financial and tax expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, management skills and leadership. CPA Canada has consolidated the operations of three national accounting bodies: The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Certified General Accountants of Canada and The Society of Management Accountants of Canada. CPA Canada conducts research into current and emerging business issues and supports the setting of accounting, auditing and assurance standards for business, not-for-profit organizations and government. It also issues guidance on control and governance, publishes professional literature and develops certification and continuing education programs.

For more information, contact:
Tobin Lambie
Principal, Media
CPA Canada
(416) 204-3228


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