Cautious optimism. CFOs share their predictions for 2017
6 February 2017
82% of CFOs in Ukraine expect their company revenues to grow in 2017, while almost half of respondents (51%) anticipate overall improvement in the financial situation of business, according to an extensive annual Deloitte CFO Survey conducted among 600 CFOs in Central Europe. This year, Ukraine joined the study providing 82 CFOs’ responses.
Gavin Flook, Deloitte Partner, Central Europe CFO Program Leader – “Essentially, this year’s report gives us an overall picture of positive expectations in a testing environment. On the one hand, the CFO Confidence Index, which we include for the second time, shows a significant 29-point rise in economic confidence over last year. On the other, there are some real worries about the quality of the business environment in which companies have to operate. For example, there are particular worries that the negative impacts of Brexit will include new restrictions on workforce mobility and decreased export opportunities”.
Nazar Farmaha, Financial Transformation Leader, Consulting, Ukraine CFO Program Leader – “The survey findings indicate that the companies adapt to highly uncertain economic situation in Ukraine. They are cautious about attracting bank borrowing preferring to finance its activities through equity (retained earnings) and accordingly choosing the organic growth of business. Cost control remains a key challenge for CFOs. In uncertain business environment, financial forecasting and integration of its results in the development and redesign of business strategies become the main items on the CFO’s priority list.”
The CFO Survey includes four main sections: macroeconomic trends and expectations, expected changes in business environment, company growth outlook and the CFO role. Key findings of the SFO Survey are highlighted below:
Confidence in macroeconomic development remains
In 2017, CFOs from Central Europe expect an average GDP growth at 1.6-2.5%, while Ukrainian CFOs anticipate the GDP growth at an average rate of 0.6-2.5%.
73% of surveyed CFOs expect the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to rise over the next 12 months. In Ukraine, the consumer price growth is anticipated by 81% of CFOs.
Overall, the employment perspectives are positive: 45% of CFOs from Central Europe and 40% of CFOs from Ukraine expect unemployment level to fall.
Despite the uncertain business environment
The high level of external financial and economic uncertainty was indicated by 43% of the Central Europe’s CFOs, and by 66% of Ukrainian CFOs.
Almost two-thirds (65%) of CFOs surveyed in Central Europe do not believe that this is a good time to take more risks. In Ukraine, risk tolerance is at about the same level (70%).
The Central Europe’s CFOs believe that attracting suitably qualified employees and downward pricing pressures will be the most pressing challenges faced by the companies in 2017. In addition, CFOs in Central Europe voiced their concerns about growing pressure from tax and financial legislation.
In Ukraine, the national currency fluctuations against foreign currencies, economic uncertainty and tax legislation were traditionally ranked as the biggest risks in 2017.
The company growth outlook is positive
Almost half of the CFOs (49% in Central Europe and 51% in Ukraine) are positive about financial situation of their companies in 2017.
In 2017, 71% of CFOs in Central Europe and 82% of CFOs in Ukraine expect their company revenues to grow over the next 12 months.
Almost 75% of respondents from Central Europe and 78% of Ukrainian survey participants expect operating margins to increase or remain at the same level.
However, only 42% of CFOs surveyed in Central Europe expect the number of employees in their companies to increase (32% in Ukraine).
At present, cost control, organic business growth and indirect cost reduction are the main priorities among Ukrainian CFOs.
The CFO role envisages more than control and supervision
Financial forecasting, development and redesign of business strategies become the new priorities for CFOs.
The annual survey monitors the most current thoughts and actions of the CFOs representing the largest and most influential companies in Central Europe. The survey analyses the challenges facing CFOs within the following sections:
• Macroeconomic trends and expectations
• Expected changes in business environment
• Company growth outlook
• The CFO role.
The findings highlighted in this report represent the opinions of almost 600 CFOs from 12 Central European countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.
In Ukraine, we surveyed 82 CFOs representing the largest companies in such sectors as agriculture, retail and wholesale, finance services, energy and resources, food industry, heavy industry, consumer business, technology, media and telecommunication, and infrastructure.
The survey was conducted between October and November 2016. Full version of the survey is available at www.deloitte.com/cecfo