Economic Optimism Prompting Small and Medium Businesses to Invest in Jobs, Technology, Study Finds

Citizens Bank Small Business Pulse released during Small Business Week finds business leaders confident in current business climate, bullish on 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I.--()--Confidence in the business climate and optimism about what lies ahead in 2017 is enabling small and medium businesses to make marketing, technology and operations investments that will fuel organic growth, according to a new survey from Citizens Bank.

The survey of more than 1,200 small and medium business owners and decision makers shows that more than half (51%) expect significant improvement in the national economy with regional improvement expected, but more tempered (46%).

“We’re seeing a general optimism about the economy among our longtime customers and businesses in general, fueled by recent changes on the national stage. Interestingly, this confidence isn’t driven by expectations for specific policy changes,” said Jack Murphy, president of Business Banking, Citizens Bank. “This optimism is translating into growth in terms of capital expenditures as well as hiring, with three-quarters of businesses telling us that they plan to hire staff in the near future.

“This bodes well for individual businesses and broader economic conditions,” continued Murphy. “As we know, the more than 28 million small businesses in the U.S. that employ 48% of the private workforce1 are the engines of the economy.”

Increased sales and revenue growth and the availability of resources are the most significant factors impacting expectations for success, with businesses anticipating using this additional revenue to fund their growth and operations initiatives. For example, 81% of businesses plan to increase their investment in technology in the next year. Businesses recognize that the constantly changing nature of business requires continued investment to keep pace with customer expectations.

Citizens Bank’s Small Business Pulse captures the mood of small and medium business owners and decisions makers, and their assessments of the current business environment, outlook on the future and plans for their individual business. As part of the survey, the Citizens Bank Small Business Pulse Index*, a composite measure capturing businesses’ overall assessment of the climate, was created. The Index will be annually monitored to determine how businesses see the business environment changing and how they will react to it.

Other key findings from this year’s survey include:

  • Technology can and must be leveraged for growth. Ninety-five percent of decision makers believe technology will impact the future success of their business and overwhelmingly expect their investment in technology to increase in the next year (81%).
  • Optimism is not tied to specific expectations. Only about half of businesses see tax policy changes impacting their business (44% at the Federal level and 50% at the local level). Anticipation for regulatory impacts is even lower with two-thirds of businesses indicating regulatory changes will not impact their businesses.
  • Among those who do foresee a positive impact from legislation, healthcare at the Federal level (64%) and environmental regulations (51%) are where they expect relief.
  • Improvements in financial performance are expected. Nearly all businesses (69%) believe their financial future will improve in the next 12 months and a third believe it will significantly improve.
  • Regional differences. New England and Midwest businesses are slightly more optimistic about the future, with both regions over-indexing (101), while the Mid-Atlantic is slightly less optimistic, under-indexing at 99. New England’s over-index is driven by strong national and company feelings while the Midwest is over-indexing because of very strong individual business expectations.
  • Optimism is stronger across some industries, in particular Industrial and Pharma/Biotech which are more bullish on revenue. Both index scores fall above the baseline (102) and 84% of Industrial and 75% of Pharma/Biotech respondents expect revenue to increase in 2017.
  • Optimism should translate into growth. Relative to other industries, Industrial (57%), Tech (56%) and Pharma/Biotech (53%) anticipate higher capital expenditure.

During May, Citizens Bank will celebrate Small Business Month – an extension of the SBA’s Small Business Week, April 30-May 6. Throughout the month, Citizens will recognize the contributions that small and medium businesses make to the economy through a number of activities, including a social media program where businesses are delivered donuts when they reach out via Twitter between May 15-17.

For a copy of the Citizens Bank Small Business Pulse Survey, please go here.

To learn more about Citizens Bank, call the customer contact center at 1-800-428-7463, follow the bank on Facebook and Twitter or visit the Citizens Bank website.

Survey Methodology
A telephone and web-based survey was administered to 1,200 small-medium business decision makers with at least $100,000 in annual business revenue from February to March 2017. Business representatives were located in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. The survey was conducted for Citizens Bank by Market Strategies International.

About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $150.3 billion in assets as of March 31, 2017. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens helps its retail customers “bank better” with mobile and online banking, a 24/7 customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,200 ATMs and approximately 1,200 Citizens Bank branches in 11 states in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. Citizens also provides wealth management, mortgage lending, auto lending, student lending and commercial banking services in select markets nationwide. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers corporate, institutional and not-for-profit clients a full range of wholesale banking products and services including lending and deposits, capital markets, treasury services, foreign exchange and interest hedging, leasing and asset finance, specialty finance and trade finance. Citizens operates through its subsidiaries Citizens Bank, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania as Citizens Bank, Citizens Commercial Banking and Citizens One. Additional information about Citizens and its full line of products and services can be found at


1 US Small Business Association Office of Advocacy.

*The Citizens Bank Small Business Pulse index is set at 100 and is used as a baseline to measure its different components and other key demographic groups.


Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Lauren DiGeronimo, 781-471-1454


Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Lauren DiGeronimo, 781-471-1454