Majority of Singapore CFOs Bullish on Domestic Growth; Indian CFOs Are Most Optimistic

The majority (82%) of Singapore's chief financial officers are confident that the domestic economy will continue growing, either modestly or substantially over the next year, according to CFO Research.

Based on an American Express-sponsored survey of 507 senior finance executives from large global companies with revenues exceeding $500 million, the proportion meant an increase from 78% in 2013.

Within Asia Pacific, Singapore’s optimistic outlook is only behind India (86%), while China (75%), Australia (73%), Japan (55%) and Hong Kong (48%) follow after. Globally, 72% of the CFOs surveyed say they are positive about growth.

Cautious on spending

Findings show that CFOs in Singapore, while poised for growth, are seemingly careful about managing investment and spending, and are maneuvering capital carefully to ensure they are spending wisely.

This could be due to downside risks arising from vulnerabilities in the external environment, even though the global recovery is on track and the outlook for Asia remains steady.

Driven by muted optimism, a large majority (66%) of the CFOs surveyed expect to increase their companies’ spending and investments by 10% or more, a notable increase from 48% in 2013.

CFOs in Singapore intend to increase investment in new product or service development (34%), mergers and acquisition (32%) and improvements to gain additional efficiencies in production processes (28%).

Spending is also expected to increase in the areas of IT systems (44%), advertising, marketing and public relations (34%) and production inputs (34%), followed by labor/headcount, computer hardware, depreciable assets (including real estate, facilities, and property, plant and equipment), as well as financial reporting and compliance.

According to the results of the survey, 78% of the CFOs report a strong working relationship with other executive management, and actively engage with key decision makers such as the CEO, marketing head, IT head, HR head as well as various department leaders to discuss business challenges.

Nearly seven out of 10 respondents also stated that the finance function is a strong (53%), if not dominating (16%), influence in strategic and operational decisions of their companies.

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