Deloitte releases surprisingly optimistic survey of UK CFOs

BVWire–UKIssue #22-1
January 19, 2021

Deloitte’s latest CFO survey for Q4 2020 should provide an emotional lift for all business leaders and valuers—even though the survey was conducted the week before the new COVID-19 restrictions were announced on 19 December and the Brexit deal on 24 December.

Deloitte reports that these finance leaders expect a return to growth in 2021 with optimism rising to a record high—though most do not expect their own businesses to recover to prepandemic levels until the last quarter of 2021 or later.

Surprising key forecast findings include:

  • CFOs’ optimism rating in the new survey achieved a 12-year high. In fact, 71% expect their revenues to rise over the next 12 months, up from 29% in Q3 2020.
  • These financial leaders see the Brexit trade deal, which came after the survey closed, as a positive, at least compared to the impact of the no-deal alternative, which was reviewed as a significant risk to the economy.
  • Brexit is viewed as having far less impact on CFOs’ own businesses than the economy as a whole.
  • Half of CFOs think it will take until the last quarter of 2021 or later for their own revenues to return to prepandemic levels.
  • Finance leaders expect levels of home-working to rise fivefold by 2025 compared to prepandemic levels and forecast higher levels of taxation and regulation in the longer term.
  • CFOs still feel cautious about significant investment. Only 19% believe it is a good time to take greater risk onto the balance sheet. Deloitte notes this is up from just 3% in Q1 2020.

This is the 54th quarterly survey of chief financial officers and group finance directors of major companies in the UK. 

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