Deloitte Global CFO Signals™: Growth remains at the top of the agenda


Despite continued uncertainty over regulation, taxes, and other macroeconomic factors, global CFOs remain united in their push for growth, according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s (DTTL) recent Q2 2013 Global CFO Signals™ report.

The report, which surveyed CFOs from 19 countries and/or regions across the globe, found increased optimism among CFOs toward their business prospects in several areas. In the UK, for example, business optimism has risen for the fourth consecutive quarter and is well above average. Buoyed by the strength of their home economies, nearly 60 percent of North American CFOs express rising optimism. Moreover, that optimism is also translating into expansionary tactics and investment in some countries.

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“Organic and inorganic growth are solidly at the top of CFOs’ agendas in many countries. Even in areas, such as Central Europe, where economic uncertainty persists, and Australia, where the threat of a slowdown in China looms large, CFOs are forging ahead with M&A and other growth activities,” says Sanford Cockrell III, Global CFO Program Leader, DTTL. “While they may not like what is in their particular economic forecasts, CFOs seem united in their determination to ride the tide of uncertainty.”

The CFOs had mixed attitudes towards economic recovery by region. However, three themes emerged when factoring in their outlooks: risk, growth, and the influence of China.

Mixed attitudes towards risk - Risk appetite has grown in many of the countries.

  • A record 45 percent of UK CFOs say that now is a good time to take risk onto their balance sheets.
  • In the Netherlands, 31 percent of CFOs report an increased risk appetite—the highest level in the last two years. 
  • Switzerland, where risk appetite has been increasing for several quarters, expected capital investments to rise.
  • Within Central Europe, the attitude toward risk runs the gamut with 0 percent of CFOs in Slovenia saying now is a good time to take on risk to 35 percent of CFOs in Estonia who take that view:
  • In Australia, 24 percent of CFOs believe that now is a good time to take greater risk onto their balance sheets.

Growth remains a priority - How and where companies plan to grow remains top of mind. 

  • For North America’s CFOs, growth is a top use of cash for three-quarters (75 percent) of all companies.
  • The story is similar for UK-facing companies (those that derive more than 70 percent of their revenues from the UK), which are now more expansionary than any time in the past two years. 
  • Despite economic uncertainty across Central Europe, the majority of the countries in the region are hunting for growth both in their domestic markets and in other markets such as Russia and Turkey. Half of these CFOs expect to see a slight increase in M&A this year, some of which will be due to the sale of distressed assets, Western investors divesting, and private equity playing a larger role. 
  • More than half (56 percent) of Ireland’s CFOs categorize their corporate strategy as expansionary, but 63 percent cite market uncertainty as the most negative influence on their companies’ investment plans in the next 12 months. 

The China Factor- While many CFO surveys focus on the state of their home economies, it is clear that finance executives also pay close attention to other markets.

  • Eighteen percent of North America’s CFOs say that the state of the Chinese economy is a top factor aiding growth – a figure that jumps to 45 percent in the Technology sector. 
  • Australian CFOs say the slowdown in China has made a major negative dent in confidence (85 percent). They are less concerned about U.S. and European economic issues. This makes China the biggest concern for Australian CFOs, reflecting the challenges and concerns that are continuing to emerge after the mining investment boom.


About The Deloitte Global CFO Signals™ Report

DTTL’s Q2 2013 Global CFO Signals report tracked the thinking and actions of CFOs from more than 1,400 global companies representing some 19 countries and geographies including North America, Australia, and several European countries.  

Twenty-four Deloitte member firm CFO surveys, covering  42 countries, are conducted by Deloitte member firms on a quarterly, biannual, or annual basis. The objective of these surveys is to collect CFOs’ opinions on a range of areas including economic outlook, financial markets, business trends, their organizations, and CFO careers. The focus and timing of each member firm’s survey varies.


About The DTTL CFO Program

The Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) Global Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Program is a CFO-centric strategic initiative that brings together a multidisciplinary team of senior Deloitte member firm partners and experienced professionals to help CFOs effectively address the different challenges and demands they experience in their role. The DTTL Global CFO Program and network of Deloitte member firms harness the breadth of Deloitte member firms’ capabilities to deliver forward thinking perspectives and fresh insights to help CFOs manage the complexities of their role, drive more value in their organization, and adapt to the changing strategic shifts in the market. For more information about the DTTL Global CFO Program, please contact or visit

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte has in the region of 200,000 professionals, all committed to becoming the standard of excellence.


Q2 2013 Global CFO Signals
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