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Deloitte Global CFO Signals™: CFOs report optimistic outlook, looking towards future expansion and growth

New York, 12 June 2013 - For the first time since the start of the economic recovery, many CFOs globally are reporting solid optimism, looking forward with anticipation instead of anxiety, and displaying the confidence to grow both organically and internationally. This is according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s (DTTL) recent Global CFO Signals Q1 report.

The report, which surveyed CFOs from 16 countries across the globe, found that worries over the currency crisis in Europe and possible slowdowns in China and the United States appeared to have eased. This means CFOs are no longer adopting a wait and see approach, as reported in previous editions; rather they finally have the comfort level to actively pursue expansionary tactics.

“CFOs tend to be cautious by nature, so the fact that this report indicates a more uniform uptick in forward thinking is pretty significant,” said Sanford Cockrell III, Leader, Global CFO Program, DTTL. “It doesn’t appear any longer to be a matter of if, but when and how they will take action. But recent history dictates that any organic growth or M&A efforts will be done strategically and with great diligence.”

Additionally, although the CFOs surveyed revealed a mixed recovery approach by region, four themes emerged when factoring in their outlooks: growth, corporate debt, policy and regulatory implications, and strategy development.

  • Growth and the M&A market: CFOs are looking for growth opportunities and evaluating their next move. While many are looking internationally, the views vary by geography:
    • In Ireland, 69 percent of CFOs consider their corporate strategy to be expansionary rather than defensive;
    • In the Netherlands, while three-quarters of CFOs still strive for organic growth, 71 percent expect M&A levels to increase in the next 12 months;
    • In France, growth in emerging countries is a main driver of optimism for 40 percent of CFOs;
    • In Austria, the percentage of CFOs who think M&A will play a positive role in the next few months rose from 18 percent to 21 percent.
  • Corporate debt and financing:New and stricter banking regulations, including Basel III, continue to give corporate bonds a boost:
    • In the United Kingdom, CFOs report that lower costs  and improved availability of credit have ensured that raising debt remains the most attractive form of financing for large corporations;
    • In Norway, corporate bond issuance stands out as the most available funding source, with a net balance of 55 percent of CFOs viewing bonds as available.
  • Policy and regulatory implications: CFOs are keeping a close watch on government actions that they believe may impede growth, while others navigate regulatory hurdles:
    • In North America more than 90 percent of CFOs say that current and recent policy decisions/debates are impacting plans and 40 percent of those CFOs indicate an increase in their government advocacy  and lobbying efforts as a result;
    • In China, regulatory hurdles are seen as one of the key challenges of doing business in that country, both in terms of volume of regulation and uncertainty in interpretation.
  • From stewards to strategist: With greater optimism moving forward, CFOs are resuming their strategy roles:
    • In China, 65 percent of CFOs report that their CEOs are asking them to focus on strategy setting, development, and execution as one of their top three priorities;
    • In Australia, more than half of the CFOs surveyed consider strategic planning as the top capability they would like to improve within their existing finance team;
    • CFOs in North America are being recognized by their CEOs for the following: providing objectivity, providing a point of view, providing analytic rigor and challenging assumptions.

Additionally, while the report found a sense of relief driving optimism, it wasn’t all good news. CFOs’ perceptions of macroeconomic and financial uncertainty in the United Kingdom may have dropped to a two-and-a half-year low, but in Belgium, a quarter of CFOs do not expect growth there before 2015. Also, while CFO sentiment in North America has improved, with earnings expectations up for the United States, in contrast, more than half of China’s CFOs expressed doubt about a recovery in the United States and Europe.

DTTL’s Q1 Signals survey tracked the thinking and actions of CFOs from more than 1400 global companies representing some 16 countries and geographies including North America, Argentina, Australia, and several European countries. 

To download a copy of the full Q1 Global Signals report including geographic summaries, visit:  www.deloitte.com/q4globalsignals.

About The Deloitte Global CFO Signals™ Survey
Twenty-four Deloitte member firm CFO surveys, covering 38 countries, are conducted by Deloitte member firms on a quarterly, biannual, or annual basis. The objective of these surveys is to collect CFOs’ opinions on a range of areas including economic outlook, financial markets, business trends, their organizations, and CFO careers. The focus and timing of each member firm’s survey varies.

About The DTTL CFO Program
The Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) Global Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Program is a CFO-centric strategic initiative that brings together a multidisciplinary team of senior Deloitte member firm partners and experienced professionals to help CFOs effectively address the different challenges and demands they experience in their role. The DTTL Global CFO Program and network of Deloitte member firms harness the breadth of Deloitte member firms’ capabilities to deliver forward thinking perspectives and fresh insights to help CFOs manage the complexities of their role, drive more value in their organization, and adapt to the changing strategic shifts in the market. For more information about the DTTL Global CFO Program, please contact globalcfoprogram@deloitte.com or visit www.deloitte.com/cfoconnect.

About Deloitte
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte has in the region of 200,000 professionals, all committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

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