European CFOs are optimistic about the future, survey finds

28 May 2021127 Views

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The survey by Deloitte checked in on CFOs around Europe for their take on their companies’ prospects as the world emerges from the pandemic.

Chief financial officers around Europe are feeling a little chirpier about the future, according to a new survey from Deloitte.

The CFOs quizzed in the survey said they feel more optimistic than they did a few months ago about their company’s financial prospects for the rest of the year. Many expect to see an increase in profits by September and to expand their workforces.

The bi-annual survey by the Big 4 firm checked the lay of the land among 1,559 CFOs in 19 European countries, including Ireland.

More than 40pc of respondents said that their revenue had returned to or surpassed pre-Covid levels. Last autumn, this figure was 23pc. However, many still flagged lingering concerns about dips again in their respective economies.

For Irish companies, Brexit has had an impact but no more so than forecasted, meaning companies have been able to prepare accordingly. But the effects of Covid-19 are still being felt.

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Many companies have spent the last 14 months reducing costs in the face of the pandemic, but the Deloitte survey found that companies are now preparing to increase capital expenditure over the coming year. Only 14pc said they were planning a reduction.

It is expected that much of this spending will be in further digitalisation, automation and expanding other tech infrastructure, demand for which has soared during lockdowns and periods of remote working.

Daniel Gaffney, partner at Deloitte Ireland, added that CFOs are putting an increased amount of attention on environmental and sustainability factors when considering their investments.

“The combination of the two trends, digital and environmental, means future investment in these areas is likely to be higher than in recent years. Much of the ability of businesses to emerge from the crisis in a stronger position depends on their capacity to invest wisely – in people as well as in technology,” Gaffney said.

The survey also found that Irish CFOs intend to increase employee numbers over the next year, but many mentioned “shortages of skilled labour as one of their top three concerns,” Gaffney added.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Deloitte survey found that the rosy attitude is more pronounced in economies outside of the eurozone. For example, 77pc of CFOs in the UK feel more optimistic than they did three months ago, the highest level across the countries surveyed.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

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