Mid-Year Business Leader Survey Features Surprises

June 25, 2021

By Dave Plaskow

June is somewhat of a transitional month. It’s the official beginning of summer, the kids are relieved of another school year, and it contains the midway point on the calendar. Combine that with talk of tax changes, infrastructure spending and continued economic recovery, and EisnerAmper thought it a good time to take the pulse of business leaders.

During mid-June, we sent a survey to our select list of business leaders, owners and C-suiters across the U.S.

A total of 140 responses gave us some interesting insights into their thoughts and concerns as we head into the second half of 2021. The top three industry sectors represented (45%) were financial services, manufacturing and distribution, and real estate.

Key Concerns

When asked about key concerns over the next 12 months, the most—more than half—cited cybersecurity at 53%, followed by finding and retaining talent (46%), and then increased costs of labor and materials (40%). Surprisingly, the option that we asked about that generated the least level of concern was developing impactful corporate social, responsibility and diversity initiatives at 16%.

Impact of Corporate Tax Hikes

With significant talk about increasing corporate rates, business leaders appear to feel like they are in a good position, with 56% indicating they don’t envision any major impact. If tax increases do happen, 21% would put new projects and initiatives on hold, 18% would consider relocating offices, and 13% would look at downsizing.

Employee Retention

Much has been made about employees not wanting to return to a typical 9-to-5 office environment as well as college grads being less prepared due to a virtual learning environment. We found that the biggest concern (44%) was finding qualified candidates, which was bookended by the lowest concern of college graduates being underqualified (11%). One pair of significant concerns is that companies may lose employees who aren’t given a hybrid or fully remote option (37%) and employee productivity and success in a continued virtual or hybrid work environment (39%).

Business Transition

The largest number of respondents (39%) have no interest in selling their businesses right now. However, for those owners who feel it’s a good time ride off into the sunset, they do have a few options at their disposal. A significant number (31%) would prefer to transition by merger or acquisition. From there, it’s a steep drop-off to sell to existing partners/employees (9%) or PE buyout/other private investments (9%). Interestingly, not one respondent would consider the method du jour, a special purpose acquisition company (“SPAC”).

Cryptocurrency

Finally, we were curious just how mainstream cryptocurrency has become and asked business leaders when, if at all, their companies will start accepting this form of payment for goods and/or services. Interestingly, the largest number—more than half—(54%) do not currently accept it nor would they consider it in the future. And only 1% currently accept cryptocurrency. For those considering jumping on the crypto-bandwagon, the most favored timeframe appears to be within 3-5 years (19%). 

We’ll continue to periodically survey these business leaders to gauge important economic trends and concerns, so stay tuned.

About David Plaskow

David Plaskow is a Senior Manager focusing on research, writing, editing and managing content for both internal and external firm communications.