Accountants turn pessimistic

By Andrew Rickard | February 01 2016 01:33PM

Professional accountants in leadership positions are increasingly concerned about Canada's economic future.

According to the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada’s (CPA Canada) most recent Business Monitor, half of the accountants surveyed in the final quarter of 2015 said they were pessimistic about how the economy will perform over the next twelve months. This is up from the 40% of those who had a pessimistic outlook in the previous quarter's survey.

"To put things into perspective, pessimism hasn’t been running this high in the quarterly research since the first quarter of 2009 when it stood at 83%," reads the statement from CPA Canada. Oil prices remain the number one challenge to the Canadian economy, cited by 39% of survey participants. The next biggest concern was general uncertainty about the economy, cited by 21%.

CPAs were also asked how they felt about their own company’s prospects, including revenues, profits, and the likelihood they would hire new employees: 38% said they were optimistic about the future of their own firm for the next twelve months, but pessimism was close behind at 31%. Company optimism had ranged between 46% and 53% during the last four quarters.

As for revenues, 51% of respondents were still forecasting growth and 48% anticipated an increase in profits over the next twelve months. CPA Canada says this is first time since the second quarter of 2009 that less than half of those surveyed were expecting an increase in profits.

Only about a third of the accountants polled think their company will be hiring anytime soon; just 31% expect growth at their company over the next twelve months, 30% expect a decline, and the remainder expect no change.

“Uncertainty dominates,” says CPA Canada president and CEO Kevin Dancey. “For many respondents, that uncertainty represents strengthening storm clouds. It’s hard to chart a course for success without clarity and right now there is no clear indication when the ramifications associated with low oil prices and the resulting insecurity will ease.”