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Indian CFOs plan to increase spend in 2019: American Express survey

This optimism can be seen in their spending outlook with 83% CFOs looking at moderate to aggressive increase in spending and investment this year to support topline growth, according to a release.

ET Bureau|
Jul 16, 2019, 08.04 PM IST
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Travel and entertainment (T&E) continues to be a sizeable part of companies’ spending.
NEW DELHI: Senior finance executives remain optimistic about the economy, the outlook for their companies and their investments for the future, according to the 2019 Global Business & Spending Outlook, a survey released by American Express and Institutional Investor Thought Leadership Studio (IITLS).

This optimism can be seen in their spending outlook with 83% CFOs looking at moderate to aggressive increase in spending and investment this year to support topline growth, according to a release. One-third of the CFOs surveyed expect their company's spending and investment worldwide to change by 10% or more this year and an overwhelming 90% of Indian CFOs believe that improving cash and working-capital management will be more important in 2019 as compared to last year. Another 67% Indian CFOs expect improved use of credit to yield a substantial financial benefit.

The 2019 Global Business & Spending Outlook was conducted by IITLS and is based on a survey of 901 senior finance executives from companies around the world with annual revenues of $500 million or more. In total, 180 CFOs and other senior finance executives from Asia and 30 from companies in India participated in the study.

Travel and entertainment (T&E) continues to be a sizeable part of companies’ spending, with 77% Indian finance executives planning to increase their spend or invest the same amount on T&E this year.

“Indian firms are gearing up to efficiently manage their spending and investment this year with a keen eye on the future,” said Manoj Adlakha, CEO – American Express India. “While they balance spending to drive top-line growth with profitability, they’re pressing ahead with plans to take advantage of demographic and economic changes to stay relevant and competitive in the next 5-10 years.”

Indian companies continue to grow; 87% of companies surveyed in India report higher or much higher revenue in the last 12 months, as compared to 43% last year. This number is notably higher than the worldwide (65%) and Asia average (63%) for this year.

In terms of priorities, CFOs in India and worldwide continue to focus on the business goal of ‘better meeting customer needs’, with 57% of Indian CFOs voting it as among their top business priorities.

Outlook on the external environment remains positive as well. In terms of their confidence in the nation’s economy, 80% of Indian respondents expect a substantial or modest economic expansion in the year ahead, substantially higher than their global peers at 71%. Indian CFOs continue having a positive outlook towards global trade policy, with 63% of Indian CFOs expecting global trade policy to strengthen their company's growth prospects

“I feel CFOs today play a critical role in the long-term strategic planning and health of the company. In fact, one of the findings in the survey is that 73% of Indian CFOs collaborate most closely with the board of directors. This is testimony to the increasingly important and strategic role CFOs play, as they navigate organizational spending in line with economic drivers and influences,” said Adlakha.
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