Confidence prevails

Australian CFO optimism has prevailed again in the first half of 2021, having already bounced back earlier this year from the severe COVID-induced shocks of 2020.

According to Australian CFOs, confidence is up nine percentage points, to 84%, compared to six months ago, but the nation’s finance leaders clearly still have one eye very firmly on the country’s latest COVID challenges.

Key report points (the survey was conducted during the July Sydney and Melbourne lockdowns) include:

  • 84% of CFOs are feeling optimistic about the financial prospects of their company
  • 66% think now is a good time to be taking on increased balance sheet risk
  • 72% report the Australian economy as having a positive impact on their optimism levels
  • 76% rate the current COVID environment as driving above normal, high or very high levels of uncertainty
  • 78% list securing and retaining key talent as a top three risk – an issue well outside the top risks six months ago
  • 72% see ESG, including climate change, as an important consideration across different parts of their business, and when it comes to investor engagement.

Deloitte partner, and CFO Program leader, Stephen Gustafson, said: “These findings are particularly encouraging, with strong business confidence such an important driver of Australia’s COVID recovery. That our survey was conducted in July, in the midst of Delta-induced lockdowns, is testament to CFOs’ resilience and positivity.

“Now in the second half of 2021, and with COVID posing more challenges than most of us hoped for, the strong economic momentum from earlier this year is hanging on. It may take a shutdown-induced hit, but it’s the remarkable ability of the Australian economy to bounce back six months ago that appears to be driving CFO confidence.”

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    Stephen Gustafson

    Partner, Audit & Assurance

    Nicola Alcorn

    Managing Partner, Sydney

    David Rumbens

    Partner, Deloitte Access Economics

    Paul Wensor

    Lead Partner, Finance & Performance Consulting