Arizona CFOs Report Higher Optimism for 2017

January 31, 2017, Tucson, AZ — CFOs in both Phoenix and Tucson believe that economic conditions have improved significantly in their cities and the state of Arizona, with the majority expecting revenue growth and one-third are planning to raise the price of their goods and services this year. These were just some of the results from the second annual Arizona CFO Spotlight Survey conducted by BeachFleischman PC, with 89 CFOs and executives participating in the weeks leading up to the U.S. presidential election.

The survey revealed that 73 percent of CFOs in Phoenix expressed high optimism and 80 percent of CFOs in Tucson had high optimism for the coming year. Revenue will “increase significantly,” according to 24 percent of CFOs in Phoenix and 22 percent of CFOs in Tucson. Perceived access to cash reserves and financing is also very high, with top CFO contributions cited as “debt refinancing” and “business metrics.” The biggest economic concerns in both cities: available skilled talent and consumer confidence. Looking ahead and managing change have taken up the largest focus of all CFOs for 2017 — with roles evolving from purely financial to operational and reputational.

“We were very intrigued by the increased levels of optimism and technological focus of CFOs taking the survey last fall,” noted Marc D. Fleischman, Chief Executive Officer of BeachFleischman. “Across nine major industries, leaders cited investments in hardware and software for efficiency as well as cybersecurity — and they were candid about their responsibility for managing the company’s reputation — which indicates to us a corporate trend toward blending CFO, CIO and COO functions.”

A key topic of the survey was change management, and CFOs provided insight on exactly what they expect to oversee in 2017: continuous innovation, cross-functional improvements, continuous education, owner transitions, compensation and reputation management. One-third of CFOs noted that artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) were starting to influence their company’s business strategy.

Other Key Survey Findings:

  • Top benefit: health insurance (with more costs passed on to employees)
  • Increased concern over border security/immigration (11% compared to 9% in 2016)
  • 70% of CFOs surveyed said environmental factors and policies in Arizona were not a major competitive concern
  • Extra bonuses and compensation edged out continuing education among top employee benefits
  • Self-insurance decreased as an attractive option for CFOs in 2017
  • A full 71% of CFOs had specific initiatives to attract millennials as employees or clients, including new job descriptions, flexible schedules, philanthropy and agile technology to improve customer experiences
  • Most CFOs mentioned hacking as a major concern regarding data security risks, followed closely by employee errors
  • Top reputation influencers: a shift in the business model and leadership transitions

Covering companies of all sizes in construction, health care, high-tech, real estate, hospitality, manufacturing, not-for-profit, governmental and financial/professional services, the 2017 survey compares responses from the 2016 Arizona CFO Spotlight Survey while adding questions about emerging trends that may impact business and employment growth.

The second annual Arizona CFO Spotlight Survey was developed by BeachFleischman PC in collaboration with Bank of Arizona, The Financial Executives and Affiliates of Tucson and Pinnacle Plan Design, LLC, with survey development and support from Ingenuity Marketing Group, LLC. Media partners include Inside Tucson Business and Phoenix Business Journal.

download the full 2017 az cfo spotlight report

Eric Majchrzak
Eric Majchrzak

Eric Majchrzak is a shareholder and chief strategy officer of BeachFleischman PC.