The latest ACCA IMA Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) suggests that confidence globally among accountants and finance professionals has declined for the third consecutive quarter and is now moderately below its long-term average.

A good cross-check on the economic outlook is provided by our two GECS fear indices, which reflect respondents’ concerns that customers and/or suppliers may go out of business. Fears of customers going out of business edged up slightly, while the index of concerns about suppliers moved in the opposite direction. Neither series looks particularly alarming by historical standards.


Regional analysis this quarter provided some interesting insights. North America saw a large rise in confidence, bringing it close to its long-term average. This perhaps reflects increased confidence that the US Federal Reserve may be able to pull off a soft landing in 2024.

In contrast, confidence declined in both Western Europe and Asia-Pacific, and is below average in both regions. There was also a very sharp fall in Africa, erasing the gains made earlier in 2023.

Overall, GECS is consistent with a further slowing in the global economy, although it does not suggest that a major downturn is in the offing. 

Risks ranked

Meanwhile, according to the risks section of the survey, global accountancy professionals ranked economic risks, talent retention and regulatory change as their top three risk priorities, respectively.

This compares with twelve months earlier, when regulatory change came first, followed by cybersecurity and economic risks. Geopolitics has also significantly moved up the ranks of risk priorities. Those in Financial Services tend to view geopolitical risks through the cybersecurity lens, while in the Corporate Sector they perceive the threats more as 'business-critical' risks, such as supply chain disruption.

Now over 10 years old, GECS – carried out jointly by ACCA and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) – remains the world’s largest regular survey of accountants, both in terms of the number of respondents and the range of economic variables monitored.

GECS provides global and regional analysis of:

  • North America

  • Western Europe

  • Africa

  • Asia-Pacific

  • Middle East

  • South Asia.

Read the full report  here.