UK CFO optimism at 12-year high, Deloitte finds

CFOs predict return to growth and lasting change in 2021

Optimism among chief financial officers (CFOs) in the UK has reached a 12-year high, according to a survey carried out by Deloitte.

Overall, a total of 90 CFOs participated in the latest survey, including CFOs of 12 FTSE 100 and 44 FTSE 250 companies.

With a Brexit deal in place, which was announced just before the survey’s end, CFO respondents had confidence businesses will return to growth in 2021.

Around half of CFOs believe it will take until the last quarter of 2021, or later, for their own revenues to return to pre-pandemic levels

Richard Houston, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK, said: “The pandemic has triggered fundamental and lasting changes in business, with CFOs expecting rising levels of home-working, greater diversification of supply chains and increasing investment in technology.

“CFOs are optimistic about operating in this changing world, with a return to growth expected this year. However, with pandemic restrictions expected to be in place through the first half of this year and elevated uncertainty CFOs are maintaining defensive balance sheet positioning.”

He added: “The UK-EU trade deal ends over four years of uncertainty for business and is a far better outcome than the alternative of no-deal. Nonetheless, CFOs also recognise the challenges that leaving the EU may pose in the years ahead.

“The UK deal has very limited provisions for services, particularly for professional and financial services. UK businesses urgently need additional clarity on key issues including financial equivalence as well as more information on the specific changes to other cross-border trading services.”

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