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Optimism improves as Australian CFOs adjust to new normal


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18 April, 2013: The latest Quarterly Deloitte CFO Survey* shows that 24% of CFOs have become more optimistic about the outlook for their own company, up from just 8% who shared this view last quarter.

Although European austerity and sovereign debt issues remain a concern, low Australian interest rates and the improved outlook for the US and China have increased the positive sentiment among local CFOs.

Commenting, Deloitte chief operating officer, Keith Skinner said: “Favourable economic indicators from the US and China have helped to raise confidence amongst the top end of town CFOs. However, it seems uncertainty is becoming ‘the new normal’ with 42% of participating CFOs describing the current level of external financial and economic uncertainty facing business as normal, the highest level in two years.”

“Aside from the economic issues we believe uncertainty is caused by dynamic market forces like digital disruption, which is redefining the operating models in sectors such as retail, media and finance,” continued Mr Skinner. This places a significant strain on CFOs who are heavily involved in helping their businesses adapt their near and long term strategic plans, in order to effectively respond.”

Increased appetite for risk

“On a more positive note, 34% of CFOs taking part in our survey believe that now is a good time to take greater risk onto their balance sheets, up from a low of 14% six months ago. This is the highest level in close to two years,” said Mr Skinner.

A third (34%) of CFOs predict that Australian businesses will hire more staff in the coming year, compared to around a quarter (24%) who expect employers to reduce headcount.  

M&A not a priority

Mr Skinner continued, “Relatively low interest rates have increased the availability and affordability of bank lending. Despite this, more proactive business strategies such as acquisitions, capital raising or significant capital expenditure haven’t made it on to the CFO’s to do list. With regard to M&A, 43% of the CFOs had other more pressing priorities within their organisation. Organic expansion (66%) and renegotiating financing facilities (55%) were their two main areas of focus for the next 12 months.”

“It looks like another quiet year for capital raising, with almost eight out of ten (79%) CFOs stating that they had no intention to raise new capital this year.”

One third of CFOs felt that credit was cheap or very cheap, and two-thirds saw credit as somewhat or very available, the most positive results since the survey began in 2009.

Other key findings

  • Economic uncertainty – 55% expect the current level of uncertainty to last for up to two years
  • Interest rates – Last quarter 67% expected further interest rate cuts from the RBA, this has softened considerably to just 34%. Those expecting interest rates to remain at 3% grew to 34% this quarter, up from 22%
  • Revenue –Two-thirds (67%) predict that revenues will increase, softening from 70% who shared this view last quarter
  • Cash flow – was also expected to grow by 66% of CFOs, up slightly from 63% last quarter

* The survey was carried out between 12 March and 1 April 2013

NB: See our media releases and research at www.deloitte.com.au

Follow us – @DeloitteNewsAU

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Contacts

Name:
Johnny Sollitt-Davis
Company:
Deloitte Australia
Job Title:
Corporate Affairs & Communications
Phone:
Tel: +61 2 9322 7256, Mobile: 0431 134 850
Email
jsollittdavis@deloitte.com.au
Name:
Keith Skinner
Company:
Deloitte Australia
Job Title:
Chief Operating Officer
Phone:
Tel: +61 2 9322 7580
Email
kskinner@deloitte.com.au

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