This site uses cookies for analytics, personalized content and ads. By continuing to browse this site, you agree to this use of cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy.

CAQ Survey: Investor Confidence in U.S. Publicly Traded Companies Peaked Prior to Shutdown

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CAQ “Main Street” Investor Survey Finds Confidence in U.S. Publicly Traded Companies Peaked Just Prior to Government Shutdown

CAQ “Pulse” Data Finds Stakes Are High if U.S. Defaults 

Washington, D.C. – Nearly seven in ten “main street” investors had confidence in the U.S. capital markets and a record 79 percent had confidence in investing in U.S. publicly-traded companies just prior to the government shutdown on October 1, according to the Center for Audit Quality’s (CAQ) 2013 Main Street Investor Survey. This year’s survey marks the seventh consecutive year the CAQ has measured investor confidence in U.S. and global capital markets, audited financial information and investing in U.S. publicly traded companies. 

“Weeks before the government closed, investor confidence in U.S. capital markets reached 69 percent, a level not seen since 2009, and confidence in investing in publicly traded companies reached a record high,” said CAQ Executive Director Cindy Fornelli. “Our polling shows a prolonged government shutdown or contentious debt ceiling fight would reverse this trend and shake investor confidence. A default could be devastating.” 

CAQ Pulse Survey: Impact of Government Shutdown and Possible U.S. Default 

  • The CAQ conducted a follow up “pulse” survey to its annual investor survey to gain a fresh perspective on how a prolonged government shutdown or U.S. default would impact investor confidence. The results, from a poll of 424 average U.S. investors, show that: 

  • Today investor confidence in U.S. capital markets is holding steady at 69 percent; The longer the shutdown goes the more confidence will erode – if it lasts another week confidence recedes to 60 percent.

  • Most importantly, investor confidence would plummet to a record low of 39 percent if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling and the U.S. were to default on its financial obligations. 

“This new data shows just how high the stakes are for the country and our capital markets if the U.S. defaults,” continued Fornelli. “We’ve not seen investor confidence in the U.S. capital markets fall below 60 percent in the seven years we’ve conducted our survey, including in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis. Staring at the real possibility that confidence dips to 39 percent if the U.S. defaults should be an incentive for policymakers to resolve this situation.” 

Confidence in Audited Financial Information Holding Steady

Other key findings from the survey include the following:

  • Confidence in capital markets outside the United States rebounded back to 2011 levels with a seven percentage point jump to 42 percent.
  • After declining in 2008, confidence in audited financial information released by publicly traded U.S. companies has been steady over the past four years with just over two-thirds of investors expressing at least some confidence. This year saw a slight uptick with just over seven in ten (72%) investors expressing at least some confidence.
  • Since 2011, respondents were asked how much confidence they have in a number of different entities when it comes to effective­ness in looking out for investors’ interests. As in past years, investors express the most confidence in independent auditors (72%), followed by financial advisors and brokers (69%) and independent audit committees (69%). All entities across the spectrum saw an increase in confidence in 2013.

Nonfinancial Factors Key in Investment Decisions 

In addition to measuring confidence, the survey also explored the factors that influence investment decisions, including what types of information investors find essential to their decision-making process. It found that investors consider more nonfinancial factors as being essential to their investment decisions than financial factors. Nonfinancial factors viewed as essential by four in ten investors or more include:

  • The sector or industry the company is in;
  • Whether a company has sound corporate governance in place;
  • The company’s key strengths and weaknesses;
  • The strategy for future company growth;
  • The company’s risks and opportunities; and
  • Whether the company is operating in a socially responsible manner and/or an environmentally friendly fashion.

In terms of where investors source information, the survey found that a majority of investors rely on a financial planner, advisor or broker, and two-thirds consider a company’s financial reports when making investment decisions. However, 34 percent of investors surveyed indicated that they use social media some of the time as a source of information.

“While investors continue to receive information from a variety of more traditional sources, information from social media is increasingly being integrated into many investors’ decision-making framework,” said Fornelli. “This trend, particularly among younger investors, is important as companies consider how to share financial and non-financial information with current and potential investors.”

About the Survey

A telephone survey of 1,013 investors was conducted from August 14-20, 2013 by The Glover Park Group using a standard digital dial (RDD) methodology. It has a margin of error +/-3.2 percent. In addition to this survey in August, a telephone survey of 424 investors was conducted October 3-6, 2013. It has a margin of error of +/-4.8 percent. Investors were defined as those with investments valued at $10,000 or more. The survey reports and the complete questionnaires are available here.

# # #

The Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) is an autonomous public policy organization dedicated to enhancing investor confidence and public trust in the global capital markets. The CAQ fosters high quality performance by public company auditors, convenes and collaborates with other stakeholders to advance the discussion of critical issues requiring action and intervention, and advocates policies and standards that  promote public company auditors’ objectivity, effectiveness and responsiveness to dynamic market conditions. Based in Washington, D.C., the CAQ is affiliated with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. For more information, visit

Follow us on Twitter: @thecaq

Media Contact

For media inquiries, please contact:

Erica Hurtt,
Director of Communications

Related Documents 

2013 Main Street Investor Survey

Pulse Poll (PDF)

View Survey Questionaire (PDF)

Investor Confidence Forum Video

Investors on the Streets of Washington Video