US tech CFOs anxious over cyber security and economy, says new survey

BY Fraser Tennant

Cyber security and economic growth are the top concerns of US tech firms in 2019, according to a BDO survey published this week.

The  firm’s ‘2019 Technology Outlook Survey’, which features the views of 100 chief financial officers (CFOs), states that data privacy remains at the centre of the tech sector’s worries, with 87 percent of CFOs expressing a high or moderate concern about the issue. It also ranked third in the list of companies’ biggest business priorities for 2019, after scaling the business (37 percent) and product or service innovation (34 percent).

“Tech companies can expect to face many challenges in the year ahead,” says Aftab Jamil, assurance partner and global leader of BDO’s technology practice. “These include data breaches and cyber attacks, as well as continued regulatory uncertainty concerning trade and other policies.”

Additional findings from the BDO survey include the difficulties tech firms are having recruiting and retaining talent, adding new products or services, and pursuing mergers and acquisitions.

According to the CFOs surveyed, the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Data Privacy Act in 2018 have further reinforced issues tech firms are facing.

“Regulatory bodies will continue to demand greater levels of accountability and transparency, and the race toward innovation will continue to speed up,” continues Mr Jamil. “As a result, tech companies will need to re-evaluate and fortify their operational and financial management in order to respond swiftly and nimbly.”

Despite these challenges, survey respondents expressed optimism about their business operations, with 84 percent expecting an increase in total revenue in 2019, at an average net change of 12.7 percent, and 62 percent anticipating an increase in their number of employees.

Respondents are also optimistic as to the impact of the new US tax reform law which is expected to have in impact this year. While 68 percent harbour high or moderate concerns about tax changes overall, 75 percent expect the reforms to be “favourable”, with 9 percent expecting them to be it to be “very favourable”.

“US tax reform will continue to have ripple effects on tech companies – and across all industries – for years to come,” said David Yasukochi, tax office managing partner and co-leader of BDO’s technology practice. “Tech companies will have to ensure constantly redefine their tax strategy to manage future risks and opportunities that come with the tech industry’s continued impressive growth.”

 Report: 2019 Technology Outlook Survey

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