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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

U.S. Executives, Employees Pessimistic on Economy, Studies Find

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Sixty-one percent of U.S. executives surveyed by McKinsey Quarterly agreed that financial reform was essential to economic stability. Two-thirds of executives in the United States and other countries said a “global regulatory framework” would prevent a global economic crisis, and while over 70% of executives said government regulation of the global financial services industry is important, 83% expect it to happen.

While the survey found a general consensus among respondents that regulation was an important part of a healthy economy, respondents were more critical regarding the law itself. Just 29% of U.S. executives said the law would have a positive effect on competition in the financial services industry. Forty-one percent of all respondents said they expected a positive effect on competition. Among large U.S. companies, 17% said they expected no change.

Among executives within the financial services industry, 38% said the law would improve competitiveness, compared with 49% of executives outside the industry.

The survey noted that pessimism has shifted to American executives; in the June survey, European executives were more pessimistic than other respondents. More than one-third of U.S. executives expect no change in the economy in the next six months; 15% expect it to get worse.

That pessimism carries over to employees, as well. In a survey of U.S. employees by Financial Finesse, a financial education firm, 78% of respondents reported feeling some level of financial stress in the second quarter. One-third reported high or overwhelming levels of stress.

Long-term planning was more important to employees last quarter, as nearly half of all calls to Financial Finesse’s call center were about long-term planning issues. One in five calls were regarding retirement and 32% of calls were about budgeting and saving, or debt.

Low demand is the most commonly cited barrier to growth, according to the McKinsey survey, although half of all respondents said they expect demand for their companies’ products or services to increase by the end of the year. Almost three-quarters expect profits to increase, and one-third expect to begin hiring.

While majorities of executives say their companies aren’t postponing plans for capital investments or acquisitions that they would “typically consider good investments for growth,” of those who are, half say it is because they’ve adopted a more conservative risk profile, and 23% say difficulty getting credit is preventing them from carrying through. Just 18% say regulatory uncertainty is the reason their company is postponing capital investments or acquisitions.

The McKinsey survey was conducted online from August 2 to August 6 among 2,850 executives in various regions and industries.


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