Canadian chief financial officers (CFOs) seem very optimistic about their futures – and what’s more, that optimism is translating into plans to spend more on IT, according to a new survey from American Express Canada.

This is the seventh year that American Express has been doing this survey, polling 507 executives in companies around the world, 30 of whom are Canadian. The executives work at companies that generate at least $500 million in revenues each year.

About 76 per cent of Canadian CFOs polled said they expected to expand economically in the next 12 months, compared to about 72 per cent worldwide. That rosy outlook on the future was also reflected elsewhere in the world, with 68 per cent of European finance executives saying they expected to expand economically this year and grow beyond the financial crisis in the European Union. That was compared to just 48 per cent in 2009, at the peak of the recession.

Tying in with that, here in Canada, 21 per cent said they saw “excellent” financial performance over the past year, while 48 per cent said their performance was “very good,” and 31 per cent said it was “good.”

All of this goes to show that while Canadians are traditionally risk-averse, this year Canadian CFOs seem to be much more hopeful about their organizations’ futures, says Paul Parisi, vice president and general manager of global corporate payments at American Express Canada.

“Last year, they were cautious, they were holding onto their money, waiting to see what was going to happen globally with some of the global economics,” he says. “This year, not only is everybody more optimistic, but Canadians are even more optimistic.”

Optimism seems to be a good thing for the IT sector. About half of the Canadian CFOs polled said they would be spending some of their budgets on cloud computing. Forty-three cent said their dollars would go towards tech consultants and outsourcing.

While the survey didn’t go as far as to find out how these CFOs would be investing in cloud or outsourcing, it does show a desire to leverage IT to meet business goals, Parisi says. This is also the first time in the seven-year survey that IT has emerged to become such a high priority among Canadian executives, he adds.

“In reading the data, the CFOs are saying the investment in IT will meet their customer needs better,” he says. “So meeting customer needs will then contribute the most to their growth.”

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