Business environment outlook
Central Europe CFO Survey 2021
The highest levels of concern for CFOs are the business environment of their organisations.
- For 52% of CFOs reduction in domestic demand is the greatest concern. It recorded the highest (25pp) increase percentagewise since 2020.
- 57% of respondents anticipate there will be a high level of uncertainty.
- CFOs see internal financing and bank borrowing as the most attractive sources of funding for their companies.
The survey recorded a considerable shift since last year in the perceived levels of uncertainty facing respondents’ businesses. The share of respondents who believe there is a high level of uncertainty has increased by 17 percentage points (pp) - from 40% in 2020 to 57% in 2021. In 2018 it reached 31% and in 2019 as much as 35%.
In 2021, CFOs participating in the survey expect a further increase of costs in a majority of categories. As much as 82% of CFOs predict that costs related to provision for bad debts will increase in 2021 (compared with 44% in 2020). 51% of respondents anticipate that the cost of debt will continue to rise, compared with 42% last year.
Cost categories that involve manpower are believed to be the greatest risk of cost increases in 2021. This was also the case in the previous edition of the survey, however, the proportion of those who expect an increase in these categories of cost in 2021 are considerably lower than last year.
As in previous years, the majority of CFOs do not think the year ahead will be a good time for companies to take on more risk; this was the view of 79% of respondents (up by 5pp from last year). CFOs from the Eurozone and EU countries are equally risk-averse.
Financing and M&A
Similar to 2020, CFOs see internal financing and bank borrowing as the most attractive sources of funding for their companies in 2021. These options were selected respectively by 49% and 43% of respondents. When looking at the M&A landscape across the Central European region*, a majority of CFOs (54%), anticipate the level of M&A transactions to increase in 2021 more so than in 2020. One in four of respondents indicate they do not anticipate any change in M&A transactions in 2021.
*Views from CFOs in Poland not included in this analysis.