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Cost is king

Deloitte CFO Survey: 2018 Q4

February 2019

The quarterly CFO Survey is firmly established with media and policy makers as the authoritative barometer of UK corporates’ sentiment and strategies. It is the only survey of major corporate users of capital that gauges attitudes to valuations, risk and financing.

Key findings

  • Growing uncertainty over Brexit has led CFOs to adopt their most defensive strategy stance in nine years
  • Risk appetite is down to a nine-year low and revenue growth expectations have dropped to the lowest level since the summer of 2016
  • After a long period of easy access to cheap credit funding conditions have begun to tighten for large corporates

Explore the data

Download the PDF to access all the historical data series from the Deloitte CFO Survey. Data from the CFO Survey is also hosted on Thomson Reuters Datastream, Bloomberg, Factset and Macrobond. Please feel free to use any of the data series in your documents or presentations.

Email Tom Simmons to receive a copy of our spreadsheet containing our CFO Survey data.

“This survey shows that uncertainty over Brexit is driving a marked shift towards defensive balance sheet strategies among British businesses. With the UK’s growth prospects heavily dependent on the so far uncertain nature of its exit from the EU, corporates are cutting back on plans for capital expenditure and hiring, focusing instead on cost reduction.

“Corporates are positioned for the hardest of Brexits, with risk appetite at recessionary levels and an intense focus on cost control. Businesses seem to be increasingly pricing in a worst-case outcome. Anything better, including a delay or a deal, could deliver a Brexit bounce in sentiment.”

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte

“This survey shows a definite ‘hunkering down’ mentality across the UK’s CFO community, highlighted by the focus on cost control, a pause on hiring and low appetite for risk.

“Given the ongoing Brexit uncertainty, this attitude is understandable and demonstrates that business urgently needs clarity about the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Unless a favourable deal is agreed, it seems likely that this current lack of appetite for investment or recruitment will continue.”

David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte North West Europe

Previous editions

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2018 Q3
Deal or no deal – that is the question

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2018 Q2
Defensive and watchful

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2018 Q1
Brexit transition boosts business confidence

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2017 Q4
Focus on cost control, no retreat on growth

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2017 Q3
Optimism bounces

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2017 Q2
Post election dip in business confidence

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2017 Q1
Brexit shock eases

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2016 Q4
Greater optimism yet to ignite risk appetite

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2016 Q3
Brexit looms large

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2016 Q2
Brexit blow to business confidence

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