According to the data from this year’s survey, Danish CFOs have regained optimism about the overall financial prospects for their company. But in certain areas, there is still underlying concern about the future.

When asked about the economic and financial prospects for their company, 37 per cent of survey respondents said that they were more optimistic than they had been three months previously. In comparison, one year ago (in spring 2022) only 16 per cent of respondents had felt more optimistic – and the number was even lower in autumn 2022, at 11 per cent. The 2023 survey numbers therefore indicate a recovery in optimism.

Figure 1. Financial prospects
Compared to three months ago, how do you feel about the financial prospects for your business?

An explanation for this greater optimism may be that the companies’ situation in the first quarter of 2023 has stabilised after a recent period of uncertainty caused by the invasion of Ukraine, fears of economic recession and high inflation. This may have altered the perceived level of uncertainty slightly.

Similar optimism is evident in the views of CFOs about future changes in the key metrics for their company. 56 per cent of our survey respondents, 12 percentage points more than in spring 2022, expect an increase in operating margins.

Figure 2. Expectations
for key metrics

In your view, how are the following key metrics for your business likely to change over the next 12 months?

However, our survey respondents are expecting a slight reduction in revenues, CAPEX and employee numbers over the next 12 months compared to spring 2022.

Still concerned about the financial and economic outlook

Although Danish CFOs tend to be optimistic about financial prospects, 49 per cent consider that the level of financial and economic uncertainty facing their company is high. This is the same as in spring 2022, suggesting that underlying concerns persist.

Figure 3.
External financial and economic uncertainty
How would you rate the overall level of external financial and economic uncertainty facing your business?

An explanation for the continuing high level of concern could be general uncertainty in the market caused by high inflation. Even though Danish CFOs believe that the rate of inflation in both Denmark and the Euro area will ease a little over the next 12 months, expectations are that it will remain high.

Figure 4. Expected inflation rate
What do you think will be the inflation rate (for the Consumer Price Index) in both your country and the Euro area over the next 12 months?

Note: The base sizes for this graph are smaller than the other graphs due to a “Do not know”-option.
Base sizes: Spring 2022 DK (n=115), Euro area (n=109), Autumn 2022 DK (n=75), Euro area (n=69), Spring 2023 DK (n=110), Euro area (n=102).

The high level of concern among CFOs about the future is evident in their views about potential risks over the next 12 months. 62 per cent believe that there is significant risk in the economic outlook and prospects for growth. Reduction in demand (foreign/domestic) is also seen as a risk factor by 51 per cent, 14 percentage points more than in spring 2022.

Our survey also found that CFOs continue to worry about a shortage of talent in the finance function. This concern reflects the current problems in the labour market where companies in general are experiencing problems in attracting and retaining suitable people.

CFOs still see cyber risk as a threat – and for good reason. Today, the question is not whether a company will be targeted, but when, to what degree, and with what consequences. In Deloitte’s 2023 Cyber Survey, six per cent of cyber security leaders said that their organisation had experienced a ‘successful’ cyberattack with a material impact in the previous 12 months.

Figure 5.
Risks in the year to come
Which of the following factors are likely to pose a significant risk to your business over the next 12 months?

Despite all the underlining concerns, the risk appetite among Danish CFOs is growing, although it is not at the same level as in 2021 when, coming out of the pandemic, it was at its highest.

Figure 6. Taking risk onto the balance sheet
Is this a good time to be taking greater risk onto the balance sheet of your company?

Digitalisation and growth are still the main priorities

This year, digitalisation and growth are again the top priorities for the next 12 months for Danish CFOs. However, the percentage of respondents saying that digitalisation is a top priority has fallen by eleven percentage points since autumn 2022, whereas the percentage identifying growth as a top priority has increased.

Other changes in views about top priorities since autumn 2022 are a slight reduction in concern about hiring and developing talent, and an increase in concerns about cost reduction, cash flow and the introduction of new products/services.

Figure 7. Priorities over the next 12 months
To what extent are the following strategies likely to be a priority for your business over the next 12 months?

Digitally mature? Not quite yet

Digital transformation continues to affect the corporate landscape. Cloud, cognitive computing and automation are creating new opportunities for transformation of finance and how the finance function should work.1

Our survey respondents say that visualisation (interactive tech), cloud computing, process robotics and advanced analytics are the most-used tools in their finance department. 52 per cent consider that their finance team is either ‘mature’ or ‘very mature’ with regard to digital transformation, although the number holding this view has decreased by nine percentage points since spring 2021.

Figure 8
. Usage of technologies

To what extent does your financial department apply the following technologies?

Figure 9. Digital transformation preparation
How do you rate the preparation of your company’s finance team in terms of digital transformation?

CFOs now rate their team as less digitally mature than they did just two years ago. This could be due to rapid developments in digital applications and technology and the need for the finance team to adapt continually.


1. Dynamic Finance: Transforming Finance from function to dynamic capability

Contact us

Kim Hendil Tegner

Partner and CFO Programme Leader

+45 30 93 64 46

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