Corporate Optimism Dampens on 2019 Economic and Business Growth, Shows New Survey

This year, optimism has waned as rising interest rates, gridlock in Washington, D.C., and increased regulatory oversight have all negatively impacted practitioners’ viewpoints, finds a new survey released today by Strategic Treasurer and TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®.  The survey polled treasury and finance professionals on their views regarding the economy, technology, industry innovation and regulation to better understand top challenges and opportunities in the marketplace.


Among the top findings of the 2019 Treasury Perspectives Survey:

  1. North American Challenges Center on Monetary and Regulatory Policy: When asked to select their top worries about doing business in North America, corporate respondents selected rising interest rates as their primary concern (56 percent), followed by gridlock in D.C. (38 percent) and an increasingly complex regulatory environment (34 percent). Fears of escalating trade conflict and a near-term recession rounded out the top 5 concerns.
  2. Companies’ Optimism Declined: Ten percent fewer organizations expect the GDP of their headquarter country to increase in 2019 than they did in 2018. In addition, 7 percent fewer businesses reported optimism in their organization’s outlook than last year. These year-over-year swings show that organizations are increasingly wary of an economic slowdown following years of low rates and high growth.
  3. Tax Reform has Limited Impact: Although 42 percent of firms in the 2018 Treasury Perspectives Survey expected U.S. tax reform to provide a significant benefit, the reality has been much different.  In fact, nearly half (44 percent) of the 2019 survey respondents stated tax reform has had no significant impact on their business. Only 15 percent of the 2019 respondents increased total income, 12 percent improved financial performance and 10 percent brought funds back to the U.S.
  4. Trade Conflict Makes Ripples, not Waves: Over the past year and especially within the last five to six months, there has been significant media coverage about trade conflict (particularly with China) and its potential impact on the U.S. economy. While the future of trade agreements still remains unclear, the majority of organizations (65 percent) stated that trade conflict has not had any significant impact on their business thus far. In total, only 18 percent have found it more expensive to conduct business in the past 12 months; 16 percent have paid higher prices on goods; and 10 percent increased the price of their own goods.
  5. Regulatory Pressure is High and Expected to Climb: Since 2008, the level of regulatory oversight levied against corporates and banks has increased dramatically, both in the United States and abroad. As a result of this heightened regulatory environment, 51 percent of companies view current levels of regulatory oversight as higher than historical norms, while 2 percent see current levels as lower. Fifty percent of survey respondents also expect continued increases to the scope and reach of regulations over the next one to two years, while 7 percent expect a decrease.

Although their overall 2019 outlook is less positive than in 2018, it is worth noting that businesses stated that they still plan to invest in their operations. When asked about spending priorities over the next two years, 44 percent of respondents with revenues of more than $1 billion said they would undertake a major acquisition, 47 percent will invest in financial technology upgrades and 29 percent plan to launch a major new product or service. Smaller businesses (revenues less than $1 billion) are hesitant to outlay cash, and are four times less likely to spend in any category during the same time period.

The 2019 Treasury Perspectives Survey was sponsored by TD Bank and conducted by Strategic Treasurer. A copy of the complete survey data and an infographic are available here. There were approximately 340 respondents, consisting primarily of treasury professionals and corporate bankers from North America and Europe.

About TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®
TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 9 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,200 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J.To learn more, visit www.td.com/us. Find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDBank and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US.
TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol “TD”. To learn more, visit www.td.com/us.

About Strategic Treasurer
Strategic Treasurer provides consulting services for treasury management, security, technology, and compliance. Since 2004, corporate clients, banks, and fintech providers throughout the world have relied on their advisory services which are backed by a deep awareness of current practices, plans, and perceptions through their annual surveys and decades of treasury experience. The mission of Strategic Treasurer is to elevate and enhance the practice of treasury by advising individual clients and informing the industry at large. Headquartered in Atlanta with consultants based out of Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Washington DC, Strategic Treasurer guides treasury and finance professionals through real-world, mission-critical issues that organizations face today. To learn more, visit strategictreasurer.com