Why Middle-Market Firms are so Confident about Growth this Year

CEOs who head up middle-market firms and have few or no concerns about the state of the global and U.S. economy are not alone. At least, that’s what the statistics say.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of business leaders from small and middle-market companies are confident about economic growth in 2017 and going forward, according to the annual Business Pulse Survey conducted by SunTrust Banks. And more than half (52%) of executives from mid-sized companies who participated in a Citizens Commercial Banking survey said they believe the coming year will bring improved economic conditions all around.

Moreover, these leaders are even more optimistic about the growth of their own companies. Seventy-five percent of participants in the Business Pulse Survey characterized the outlook for their business as “strong,” noting that their organizations have access to the capital needed to take advantage of growth opportunities in 2017.

“Three out of four have a goal-setting process linked to long-term growth strategies and are comfortable that they will achieve their goals,” said Allison Dukes, commercial and business banking executive at SunTrust.

Not surprisingly, leaders of middle-market companies foresee several government actions as spurring business momentum, with a respective 46% and 44% of SunTrust survey respondents predicting that healthcare and tax reform will be catalysts for growth going forward. Their list also included reduced regulations (39%) and investments in infrastructure (37%).


Regulations and monetary policies favored by President Trump also could contribute to the growth of middle-market companies, especially those companies whose production is domestically focused. Even if economic policies outlined by the President in his campaign are not implemented, tax reforms will likely spark growth via a direct impact on local economies and companies. This should lead to an increase in debt demand from the mid-market segment.

Speaking of President Trump, 38% of participants in the Citizens Commercial Banking survey think the results of the election will boost high expectations for mergers and acquisitions in 2017 set out in a Citizens Commercial Banking Middle Market M&A Outlook. The Outlook was published before the survey was conducted earlier this year.

“The election results added more fuel to a positive outlook for mergers and acquisitions among middle-market U.S. companies this year,” said Bob Rubino, executive vice president and head of corporate finance and capital markets, Citizens Commercial Banking.

As for their own methods of stimulating growth over the next five years, 40% of middle-market firms queried for the Business Pulse survey deemed introducing a new product or service over the next five years a top growth-inducing strategy. Other avenues cited included making a major capital investment (31% of respondents) and acquiring another company (17% of respondents). Common strategies for undertaking these initiatives, survey respondents said, include using cash on hand, reducing costs, obtaining a bank loan and reinvesting corporate earnings.

“Over the past four years, businesses in the small and mid-markets have taken incremental steps toward growing their companies, including mergers and acquisitions, hiring and improving cash flow,” Dukes said. “Now, they see an opportunity for significant changes… to unleash additional business growth.”

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