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CFOs set on growing their businesses despite uncertainties

Thursday 22nd February, 2018

According to research by Deloitte CFOs see increasing risks to their business from Brexit and a slowing UK economy and are reacting with a renewed focus on cost control. However, domestic concerns have not blunted CFOs’ search for growth and opportunities.

Deloitte’s CFO Survey found Brexit remains the top concern for CFOs giving it (on a scale of 0-100) a ranking of 62, up from 58 last quarter. Brexit is followed by weak demand in the UK (59, up from 53) and weak UK productivity (49, up from 43).

38% of CFOs say there is a high or very high level of uncertainty facing their business, up from 35% last quarter but down from 50% one year ago and well below levels around the EU referendum.

41% say they expect hiring within their business to slow as a result of Brexit, up from 36% in Q3, while 39% expect their capital spending to decrease, up from 30% last quarter.

51% of CFOs say that reducing costs is a strong priority for their business over the coming 12 months.

However, CFOs have not shifted away from growth. The priority CFOs attach to expansion over the next 12 months is at its highest level since this question was first asked in 2009.

18% of CFOs say they are more optimistic about the prospects for their company than they were three months ago, down from 27% in Q3’s survey, though above the average reading for the last two years.

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, said: “CFOs enter 2018 more focussed on controlling costs than at any time in the last eight years. Despite this, CFOs are more optimistic today than they have been in the last two years and perceptions of uncertainty are far lower than during the euro crisis and following the EU referendum."