European CFO Survey Q1 2016

Politics takes centre stage 

What European CFOs are telling us

In today’s global economy, the ability to compare CFO sentiment helps give a more in-depth understanding of how some of the most influential Chief Financial Officers in Europe react to changing market conditions.

Since our previous European CFO Survey in Q3 2015, the Eurozone economy has continued its modest recovery. Chief Financial Officers across Europe have begun 2016 in a cautiously optimistic mood, but are acutely aware of the headwinds ahead. Download the report to find out more.

Key findings

Optimism on the up…

  • Of the nearly 1,500 participating CFOs across 17 countries, a small majority of CFOs say they have a more positive view about growth in their businesses than they did six months ago. CFOs in eurozone countries are once again more optimistic about the financial prospects for their companies than their non-eurozone peers
  • The outlook on employment, has been a particular source of optimism in the eurozone despite the overall fall across Europe, with the outlook for hiring particularly strong in Italy and Ireland – two countries that saw among the sharpest rise in unemployment following the financial crisis of 2008-09
  • Monetary policy has also continued to spur growth, with central banks incentivising bank lending to stimulate activity; the outlook for bank borrowing has improved again from six months ago, and remains positive.

But politics could puncture growth…

  • Europe entered 2016 facing a number of political and geopolitical challenges, which seem to be weighing heavily on sentiment in a number of countries. Geopolitical or political factors rank as the top two business risks for two-fifths of CFOs
  • A large portion of CFOs report levels of external uncertainty to be higher than normal, and rising perceptions of this uncertainty have been accompanied by risk appetite falling sharply and CFOs reporting increased pressures on operating margins
  • The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the proposed trade agreement between the US and the EU, is being met with limited enthusiasm, with 73% of the cohort reporting that there would be no discernible impact to their businesses from the deal, reinforcing the notion that political and geopolitical uncertainties are currently more prominent issues for CFOs
    Given all these issues, it is unsurprising that CFOs are no more than cautiously optimistic. Download the report to find out more. 
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