ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

CFOs' business confidence hits 9-year high

90% of CFOs expect economic expansion this year, beating the 82% record in 2010.

Nine in 10 of CFOs from Singapore expect economic expansion this year, up from 80% in 2017, 60% in 2016, and 82% in 2010, American Express and Institutional Investor revealed.

According to the 11th Global Business & Spending Outlook, despite this optimism, one in three acknowledge that next-gen tech innovations are likely to bring major disruption to the competitive dynamics of their industry (versus a global average of 23%) and the economic well-being of their country (30% versus a global average of 21%).

“With the government encouraging digitalisation and many businesses already investing in new technology, it’s more crucial than ever for companies to set aside funds to make smart investments and stay ahead of competition. To remain successful, companies need to be agile enough to turn the challenges of disruption into opportunities for growth,” said Celine Chua, American Express vice president and general manager of global corporate payments for Singapore.

Almost 8 in 10 (77%) said artificial intelligence will most likely to impact their industry in the next five years. This is followed by robotics and automation (47%) and embedded sensors (40%). 

Not content to just keep pace with changes, CFOs are seizing the opportunity to make a name for their companies. Four in 10 (40%) are seeking to be tech pioneers to bring next-generation technology to their industries. Whilst almost 6 in 10 (57%) identify as risk-aware investors who are investing in the next-gen tech as a hedge against technology change, only 3% consider themselves sceptical investors who see little opportunity or threat in new technologies.

Whilst enthusiastic about new technologies, local CFOs remain mindful of the risks related to the privacy and security of their data and their customers. Identifying data breaches is the single most important IT-spending priority for this year, as cited by 27% of respondents. This is followed by cloud computing and the integration of different information systems (both 13%).

“Whilst CFOs are actively investing in innovative technologies, they need to remember the importance of data security and working with trusted service providers. Only with peace of mind about the privacy of their data can companies and their customers make full use of new technologies,” said Chua concluded.

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