Best Face Forward: CFO Study Emphasizes In-Person Meetings

American Express' 2013 CFO Outlook mentions the value of face time in the business world, among other things.

With all the talk of virtual and hybrid meetings in recent years, you’d think that the in-person meeting was fading from view.

CFOs are continuing to shift from a defensive posture toward making smart, savvy investments so they can compete and grow.

Not so, according to a new American Express study. The company’s 2013 CFO Outlook, a survey of more than 200 senior financial executives, notes that, despite relatively tight corporate travel policies, most businesses anticipate continued spending on travel.

More details from the study:

Travel stays steady: Don’t expect the road-warrior types to head to the bullpen anytime soon: The study notes that 61 percent of CFOs expect travel expenses to stay the same or increase in 2013. Why the focus on business travel? Most firms are looking to gain business (37 percent) or retain it (35 percent). Things aren’t likely to get too lavish, though. “Road warriors can expect to keep visiting new prospects and current customers in 2013 because these are the kinds of trips that drive sales,” said Darryl Brown, the president of global corporate payments in the Americas at American Express. “Businesses will be looking to manage their travel programs with a focus on holding down costs through negotiated discount rates and a strategic emphasis on high-value trips.”

Where to invest: According to the study, expansion is on the minds of most CFOs, with 59 percent favoring new investments. What areas are looking the most promising? According to the study, new technology leads the way (61 percent), followed by new product development (59 percent) and market expansion (52 percent).

Growth coming: On the whole, CFOs are bullish about their own business prospects, with three-quarters anticipating revenue growth this year and 89 percent in the next three years. With that increase comes job growth: More than one-third of senior financial executives anticipate an increase in headcount in 2013.

“CFOs are continuing to shift from a defensive posture toward making smart, savvy investments so they can compete and grow,” Brown said. This could mean good things for associations as businesses look to expand their bases after the recession.

How is the fiscal forecast looking for your association? Let us know in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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