Swiss CFOs confident despite increasing risks
Results of the 20th Deloitte CFO Survey
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Zurich, 27 July 2014 - Three out of four CFOs rate the economic outlook in Switzerland for the next twelve months as positive. Eighty-one per cent of CFOs anticipate higher sales and 41% expect widening operating margins. Their appetite for risk is also undiminished. This optimism is clouded by geopolitical risks and concerns about increasing regulations in Switzerland. These findings and more are revealed by the second Deloitte CFO Survey of 2014.
“CFOs are still soundly optimistic about the economic situation,” Michael Grampp, Chief Economist at Deloitte in Switzerland, explains. “The pickup of growth in the USA and the UK as well as the Eurozone recovery are boosting exports further, and the historically low interest rate is creating a positive financial environment.”
In the latest survey by Deloitte, 120 CFOs gave their assessment of a range of economic and business-related issues. Currently 75% of the CFOs surveyed are feeling optimistic about the Swiss economy. Sales expectations have stabilised at a high level and margins also continue to develop positively.
CFOs willing to take risks
Another encouraging sign is the risk appetite of Swiss companies. Forty-three per cent of CFOs feel that now is a good time to take greater balance-sheet risks. The findings reveal that above all large and internationally active companies are increasingly taking risks and exploiting opportunities for expansion as they open up. These companies are best placed to profit from the economic growth forecast for foreign markets.
Regulations and geopolitical tensions the main concerns
Political risks, on the other hand, are a source of worry to the CFOs. Fifty-nine per cent of the CFOs deem the rise in regulations in Switzerland a risk. For the first time, CFOs were asked about their assessment of the geopolitical situation. Over half (54%) see a significant risk in the current tensions in several regions of the world. In fact, for companies with international operations it is the biggest risk by a clear margin (72%), followed by falling foreign demand (61%). They are somewhat less concerned about the strength of the Swiss franc, which has played a subordinate role, both for national and international companies, for the past six quarters.
As Michael Grampp stresses: “Depending on the size of the company and the extent of their international operations, there are significant differences in the perception of external risks. Yet there is agreement with respect to company-internal risks. Here the focus is very definitely on rising labour and operating costs.”
Financial environment intact
The credit situation in Switzerland is judged positively by the CFOs. A majority of 61% assess credit as readily available and 63% of CFOs consider the cost of credit low. Thus the low interest rate continues to represent an important source of support for Swiss companies.
About the Deloitte CFO Survey
Every quarter, Deloitte in Switzerland conducts a survey of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Finance Managers of major Swiss companies. One hundred and twenty CFOs took part in the 20th survey carried out at the end of the second quarter of 2014. Around 30% of the CFOs surveyed represent listed companies, 70% are CFOs of private companies from all relevant sectors of the Swiss economy. Deloitte’s CFO Survey is the only one of its kind in Switzerland and is conducted by Deloitte DTTL in an additional 20 countries.
About Deloitte in Switzerland
Deloitte is a leading accounting and consulting company in Switzerland and provides industry-specific services in the areas of audit, tax, consulting and corporate finance. With approximately 1,100 employees at six locations in Basel, Berne, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano and Zurich (headquarters), Deloitte serves companies and institutions of all legal forms and sizes in all industry sectors. Deloitte AG is a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP, the UK member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL). DTTL member firms comprise of approximately 200,000 employees in more than 150 countries around the world.
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