Economic / Future Trends

CEO confidence rebounds, fueled by decreasing pessimism, improving prospects for revenues [Q3 2020 Vistage survey]

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Signs of life in the economy and an increase of business activity has led to an increase in confidence of small and midsize business CEOs. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index rebounded to 82.8 Q3 2020; while not at peak recovery, this is just 2.6% below Q3 2019.

While all factors that comprise the Index improved from last quarter, the biggest driver of the rebound is decreasing pessimism about the future U.S. economy. September’s survey found that 83% of CEOs expect the economy to worsen in the year ahead, a 10-point improvement from 93% last quarter.

The other factors that contributed to the rebound from last quarter include:

  • 32.5% improvements in revenue expectations
  • 29.2% improvement in profitability expectations
  • 28.3% increase in investment plans, largely driven by a significant decline in contraction
  • 25.4% improvement in workforce plans
  • 10.1% improvement in expectations for the U.S. economy

SMB revenue expectations for next 12 months improve

While the Index is calculated quarterly, an analysis of survey data collected monthly since the pandemic began illustrates the improvements in revenue expectations over time. A major factor in rebound in CEO confidence in Q3 is positive revenue expectations with 63% of CEOs expecting improved revenues in the next 12 months, on par with the data recorded in March.

This sign that business activity is increasing is also reflected in sentiment about the future of the U.S. economy; 58% of CEOs report expectations that the economy will also improve in the next 12 months. However, the recovery is not projected to be a sharp V, but rather stair steps of progress that will be impacted by a great deal of uncertainty in relief measures, a volatile election and potential of a second surge that will further impact the economy.

Source: Q3 2020 Vistage CEO Confidence Index, n=1,304
These findings represent data collected between September 8-15, 2020 from CEOs and other leaders of small and midsize businesses in the U.S.

Download the Q3 2020 Vistage CEO Confidence Index report to learn more about the sentiment of small and midsize business leaders, including:

  • Projections about the performance of the U.S. economy
  • Revenue and profitability expectations
  • Expansion plans for hiring and investments
  • Coronavirus impacts

About the Vistage CEO Confidence Index

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Category: Economic / Future Trends

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Anne Petrik About the Author: Anne Petrik

As director of research for Vistage, Anne Petrik leads the design, deployment and analysis of member surveys for Vistage, capturing the sentiment and practices of the Vistage CEO community. This analysis, in collaboration with perspectives f…

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