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Swiss franc overshadows CFOs’ economic outlook

60% of Swiss CFOs are pessimistic about the future

Zurich, 29 April 2015

According to the last Deloitte CFO Survey, 71% of participating Swiss CFOs regard the strong Swiss franc as the biggest risk in the current market environment, followed by geopolitical risks and increasing regulation in Switzerland. In the eyes of CFOs, the economic outlook for Switzerland is deteriorating sharply, together with the financial prospects for their own companies. Almost two thirds expect a fall in revenue, and 80% expect declining margins. All this and more is reported in the 23rd quarterly survey of Swiss CFOs.

For the 127 CFOs surveyed by Deloitte, the economic outlook for Switzerland is the worst in a long time. Sixty per cent are pessimistic about the future (compared to a mere 12% in the previous quarter) and only 10% are optimistic (41% in the previous quarter). Fears of recession have also grown. In the previous quarter, only 8% expected a recession in Switzerland within the next two years, this quarter, 36% are concerned about this possibility.

The Deloitte CFO Survey - Riders on the currency storm

Chart 1: Economic expectations go negative

Net balance of CFOs rating Switzerland’s economic prospects over the next 12 months as positive/negative

Source: Deloitte CFO Survey Q1 2015, April 2015

Strong negative trend in business prospects

CFOs’ assessments for their own companies have also deteriorated, with a majority of respondents expecting a decrease in revenue (65%) and margins (80%) in the next 12 months. The trend for the financial prospects is also negative. Compared with the previous quarter, 65% are now more pessimistic than they were at the end of 2014 (at that time, 23% were more pessimistic than in the previous quarter).

The Swiss franc is generally perceived as the biggest risk for companies. This negative perception has increased from 39% to 71% of respondents since the end of the currency floor in January 2015. The CFOs also identified other risks, primarily external : “For 70%, geopolitical risks are a major concern – virtually the same level as risks in connection with the Swiss franc. Sixty-three per cent of CFOs also see the increase in regulation in Switzerland posing risks for their companies,” Michael Grampp, Chief Economist at Deloitte in Switzerland, explains.

Chart 2: External risks dominate

Which of the following factors could pose a material risk for your company in the next 12 months? (Multiple answers possible)

Source: Deloitte CFO Survey Q1 2015, April 2015

Measures to counter strong Swiss franc

Seventy-one per cent of CFOs surveyed support an early and business-friendly implementation of reforms in response to the strength of the Swiss franc. Michael Grampp comments: “There is a growing call for reform as a response to the appreciation of the Swiss franc, among other reasons because growing regulation in Switzerland is seen as one of the biggest business risks.”

At the company level 62% of CFOs favour measures to cut costs, followed by price reductions by suppliers (60%). To counter the strong Swiss franc, almost one fifth of CFOs also regard layoffs (19%) and an increase in working hours (17%) as effective measures.

About the Deloitte CFO Survey

Each quarter, Deloitte in Switzerland conducts a survey of chief financial officers (CFOs) and finance directors. Some 127 CFOs took part in the 23rd survey, which was carried out in February and March 2015. They represent both listed companies and large private companies from all relevant industries/segments. Deloitte conducts similar CFO surveys in more than 30 countries.

Download the full results of the Deloitte CFO Survey.

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 1,300 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 210,000 employees in more than 150 countries around the world.

Note to editors

In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte AG, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP, which is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries are leading business advisers, providing audit, tax, consulting and corporate finance services through more than 14 000 exceptional people across the UK and Switzerland. Known as an employer of choice for innovative human resources programmes, it is dedicated to helping its clients and people excel.

Deloitte AG is an auditor firm recognised and supervised by the Federal Audit Oversight Authority (FAOA) and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

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