The move marks a shift away from last year’s top priority of cost reduction, according to the survey, as over three-quarters of CFOs (71%) expect rises in capital expenditure.
In addition, 76% anticipate increases in hiring over the year ahead, with expectations for both at their highest levels in almost seven years.
CFOs are also placing greater emphasis on expansionary strategies, with 41% rating introducing new products and services, or expanding into new markets as a strong priority.
Meanwhile, 30% of CFOs rated expanding by acquisition and 22% rated increasing capital expenditure as a strong priority over the next 12 months. According to Deloitte, M&A seems “set to play an outsized role in reshaping the business landscape”, with CFOs rating expansion through acquisition a higher priority than at any time in the last 11 years.
Cost reduction, which has been a key priority for CFOs since the start of the pandemic, is now a lower priority than at any time in the last seven years.
Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, said: “With the economy reopening, CFOs’ perceptions of external uncertainty have dropped below the average of the last five years and businesses have tacked away from the defensive strategies that helped them through the downturn.
“The pandemic, like all major shocks, will reshape the economy and we are likely to see years of normal growth compressed into just a few months. Indeed, eight in ten CFOs believe that productivity will run higher in the wake of the pandemic. That offers the hope of a more comprehensive recovery than after the global financial crisis.”
The latest survey, conducted between 16 and 29 of June 2021, saw 107 CFOs participate, including CFOs of 21 FTSE 100 and 43 FTSE 250 companies. The combined market value of the 69 UK-listed companies that participated is £548bn, around 21% of the UK quoted equity market.