By Rose Oswald Poels
Wisconsin bank leaders have the unique vantage point of being both financial experts and business advisers to their customers. That is what makes the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) biannual Bank CEO Economic Conditions Survey a valuable tool in identifying current and future trends. Bankers have unique insights into their customer’s financial health as well as understand issues facing businesses in their markets. In our latest survey, conducted at the end of November, 68% of respondents rated Wisconsin’s current economic health as “excellent” or “good.” While most respondents (95%) do not foresee inflation worsening, 44% predict that the economy will weaken over the next six months and 47% predict it will stay about the same over the next six months. At the close of 2022, 72% of respondents predicted the economy would weaken over the next six months and 28% predicted it would stay about the same, showing some easing of economic concerns at 2023 year-end.
Among the economic bright spots cited by bank CEOs in the survey were low unemployment, profitability of area businesses — particularly in construction and manufacturing — and relatively good commodity prices for the agricultural industry. On the other hand, bank CEOs reported staffing and interest rates as top concerns of their business customers heading into the new year. The survey also showed inflation, a high cost of living, and availability and affordability of housing as top concerns for individuals and families for 2024.
I would like to thank the 66 bank CEOs who completed the survey. Your perspective not only provides insights to support WBA’s public relations outreach on behalf of the industry, but it also informs the Association on the economic well-being of your customers and communities. In addition, the aggregate survey results serve as a resource to member bankers to compare your market-area perspective with those of your peers across the state.