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As Optimism Abounds and U.S. Mid-Market Recovery Gains Traction, Jobs and Technology Risks Increase

By Nick Araco posted 04-19-2021 08:14 AM

I spent some time this weekend reviewing the sentiment data and transcripts from recent discussions within our CFO and CHRO Alliance Peer Advisory Networks and can say, with confidence, that the overall business and economic outlook of finance and HR leaders from emerging and mid-market U.S. enterprises has improved significantly in recent weeks. An accelerating pace of vaccinations, a faster reopening schedule, and the $1.9 trillion stimulus in addition to the $900 billion package approved in December, all point to a seismic shift in U.S. Mid-Market outlook relative to where it stood in Q4 2020, when we captured and analyzed our 2021 Sentiment Report data. 

Despite this improved outlook, people and technology risks are increasing. Job creation in emerging and Mid-Market enterprises remains a lingering weak point in the recovery, with unemployment, adjusted for labor force composition, expected to reach its pre-crisis rate only by the second half of 2023. In addition, in a rare televised appearance, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the economy is set to turn around as more Americans get vaccinated and flock back to long-neglected industries, but he warned that  cyber attacks on financial institutions are the Fed’s biggest concern at the moment. "The world changes. The world evolves. And the risks change as well. And I would say that the risk that we keep our eyes on the most now is cyber risk," he said, adding that that concern was shared by multiple governments and private businesses, particularly in finance.  

As finance and HR leaders gather together in Q2 for our CFO and CHRO Alliance Peer Advisory Group Meetings to discuss people and technology performance as the economy heats up, there will certainly be discussion regarding risks, and mitigation and management techniques. The good news? The strategic conversation amongst finance and HR leaders around risk is changing too. For finance and HR leaders today, risk can now be used as a tool to create value and achieve higher levels of performance. It’s no longer something to only fear, minimize, and avoid. With this in mind, I invite all finance and HR leaders to gather at our Q2 Peer Advisory Group Meetings to explore the drivers, opportunities, threats, and real-world examples of rising people and technology trends and challenge them to ask themselves:  Will your enterprise be able to harness these trends to be even stronger, more resilient in the 2nd half of 2021 and beyond?