CFO Confidence in Indian Economy at a New High with Indication of Increased Spending and Investment American Express/CFO Research Global Business and Spending Monitor
o 93% of CFOs are likely to increase spending on business travel
o 100% Indian CFOs will increase spending and investment
o 86% Indian CFOs expect Indian economy to expand over the next year
o 79% Indian CFOs foresee expansion in the domestic economy as the key driver for business growth
o 77% Indian respondents expect their company’s sales to increase the most in the Indian subcontinent
India: Senior Indian finance executives are bullish about the domestic economyand the balance is shifting more towards a growth outlook with business confidence on a high as is clearly reflected in the seventh annual American Express/CFO Research Global Business and Spending Monitor. A phenomenal 100% of the Indian CFOs plan to increase their spending and investment activities this year.

Mr. Manoj Adlakha, Vice President and General Manager, Global Corporate Payments, American Express India,said, “There is a strong positive sentiment amongst Indian CFOs towards the domestic economic and business environment. With more than 86% Indian CFOs expecting the Indian economy to expand over the next year, the confidence in the domestic economy is the highest that our report has shown in last three years. A particularly positive sign is the CFO plans to aggressively increase their spending and investments across categories including IT, financial reporting, business travel, etc.Against this background, Indian CFOs will need to implement effectiveexpense management solutions to improve control, build transparency and achieve savings.”

While CFOs from China, Hong Kong and other Asian countries have significantly scaled back their expectations for their local economy, 86% of Indian CFOs have demonstrated a leap of faith in their local economy compared to last year. A large 77% of Indian CFOs expect their company’s sales to increase the most in the Indian subcontinent while another 67% expect growth from within Asian markets. Indian CFOs lead the Asian region in terms of their investment plans across various business functions including transportation and logistics, computer hardware, Enterprise IT, and business and professional services.

Companies Are Looking to Get the Most Out of Their Travel Expense

With the environment looking positive for India, a high 93% of Indian CFOs are likely to increase spending on business travel in 2014. Indian CFOs are likely to increase spending across four broad categories — travel to meet with current or potential customers (57%), travel to internal meetings and engagements (57%), travel for industry engagement or professional developments (53%) and travel to meet with suppliers or vendors (48%).

“Travel and Entertainment (T&E) remains a business catalyst and companies will continue to invest in business travel to aid growth as reflected in the report. With T&E expenses accounting for the second-largest area of spend for most corporations, Expense management solutions can give businesses transparency, control, savings and rewards, resulting in operating advantages, “saysMr Adlakha.

In regions where economic growth is expected to be more moderate, finance executives are more likely to restrict travel spending.

Spending and Investments for growth and profitability

The report reveals that this year, emerging economies will lead the way on investing for growth, and gear up to meet increased demand. Globally, 17% CFOs said they will aggressively approach spending and investment to boost top-line revenues. 30% Indian CFOs and senior finance executives will look at aggressive spending and investment while a higher 57% will approach spending more moderately to support top-line growth while improving profitability. This indicates a more forward-looking stance for finance officers, compared to the conservative view focused on cost control in 2013.

Across the population of respondents, survey results indicate that companies plan to invest more in expanding market access (57%), improving business intelligence and analytics (57%), improving production-process efficiency (55%) and new product/service development (55%).

Information Technology emerges as a key spending area

Respondents have cited a wide range of needs for spending on information technology in 2014, with 70% respondents agreeing that information technology will contribute most to their growth strategy by improving efficiency and productivity, and reducing costs for the company.

77% Indian CFOs agree that use of information technology will improve management decision making, while a 57% look at it for improving financial reporting and analysis. In India, 47% of respondents say their companies have critical needs to invest both in cloud computing and in mobile technologies.

Mr Adlakhaadded, “American Express Global Corporate Payments provides MIS-based proven expense management solutions, which generates management information from card usage, providing an invaluable management tool to help corporations monitor expenditure patterns and identify opportunities for cost savings.”

CFOs Now Are Leading a “Can Do” Culture

As companies turn their attention to growth, the role of the finance chief as a catalyst, spurring the company forward, is highlighted more than ever. A “can-do” attitude is starting to permeate more companies as prospects improve and as customers return.87% Indian respondents agreed that the finance viewpoint carried an influential and determining factor in strategic operations decisions. And in this regard, executive management tends to give more weight to their CFOs input. 87% Indian CFOs claim to having a strong working relationship with their management. As CEOs drive their companies forward, they will be looking to their finance chiefs to provide credible, balanced advice that can help them regulate their speed.