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CFO optimism reaches record levels

Deloitte CFO Survey: 2021 Q1

April 2021

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

  • Optimism among CFOs has risen to a record high.  The successful rollout of vaccines in the UK, prospective re-opening of the economy and a gathering US recovery have all boosted sentiment.
  • CFOs anticipate a strong recovery in profits over the next twelve months.  A brighter backdrop has tilted companies away from defensive strategies, such as cost control, while expectations for hiring and investment have reached their highest levels in nearly six years.
  • Brexit has dropped sharply as a source of risk to businesses from the top positions it has held on the CFO risk list since the EU referendum.  Close to 10% of surveyed CFOs have experienced significant or severe disruption to their businesses due to Breixt.  However, they believe interruptions will fade, with only 3% expecting similar levels of disruption in a year's time.
  • Two-thirds of finance leaders expect the bulk of their workforce to return to working from offices by September.

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.

“Brexit has been a significant dampener on business activity in the last four years but with the UK’s final departure from the EU, such effects are fading. Combined with a successful vaccine rollout and a greatly improved global backdrop we are seeing a turbo-charged surge in business optimism.

“Having come through the deepest downturn in 300 years UK businesses are firmly focussed on growth. Pent-up business and consumer demand are set to power a strong profits recovery, one already anticipated by the surge in equity markets since February.”

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte

“Business leaders are looking to combine the benefits of office working - from collaboration to innovation - with the flexibility of remote working. Technology transformations like artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the cloud will play a big part in supporting this hybrid working model.

“Looking more broadly, it's encouraging to see such a marked increase in sentiment amongst CFOs. The focus now needs to centre on expanding capacity and improving supply chains so that pent up demand can be successfully met.  Making the most of the long-term transformations sparked by the pandemic will be key to the future recovery of businesses and the economy.”

Richard Houston, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte North and South Europe

Previous editions

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2020 Q4
2021: Lasting change and growth

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2020 Q3
The long COVID recovery

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2020 Q2
No quick bounce back

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2020 Q1
Crash, slow recovery, lasting change

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2019 Q4
Business confidence soars

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2019 Q3
Persistent uncertainty takes its toll

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2019 Q2
Corporate caution, financial market optimism

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2019 Q1
The dash for cash

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2018 Q4
Cost is king

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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