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Deloitte Insights

Growth in a riskier world

Deloitte CFO Survey: 2022 Q1

April 2022

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

  • A record number of finance leaders (98%) anticipate operating costs to rise in the year ahead. Almost half of CFOs (46%) expect these rises to be significant. In light of cost increases, there has also been a sharp deterioration in the outlook for corporates’ margins. A majority of CFOs (71%) believe operating margins will fall over the next 12 months, compared to 44% in the previous quarter. But despite this, three-quarters expect revenues to rise over the next year.
  • The invasion of Ukraine has heightened the level of financial and economic uncertainty facing businesses. Over half of CFOs (56%) say that the level of uncertainty facing their business is high or very high. Geopolitics has risen sharply as the top risk facing CFOs’ businesses. With the exception of the pandemic during Q2 and Q3 2020, the risk rating assigned to geopolitics is higher than any other factor since the question was first asked in 2014. Rising inflation, the prospect of further interest rate rises, and persistent labour shortages, also rank high on the list of CFO concerns.
  • Even with this more challenging environment, CFOs remain focused on growth. Capital spending remains a strong priority for 21% of CFOs. Although this has dropped from last quarter’s record high (37%), it remains considerably above the five-year average of 14%.

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.

“Rising geopolitical risk in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine and alongside high inflation mean that the external challenges faced by business are greater today than at any time in the last eight years. These risks now far eclipse Brexit and the pandemic, which have dominated the list of CFO concerns in recent years. Over the next year, CFOs believe a mix of rising costs and slower growth are set to squeeze margins."

“In spite of this - as finance leaders have become accustomed to navigating a more volatile business environment - they remain focused on capital spending and growing their businesses.”

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte

“It’s clear that businesses are operating in an increasingly uncertain and challenging economic and geopolitical environment."

“However, CFOs are not reporting a widescale shift to defensive strategies, such as cost cutting, seen at the beginning of the pandemic. Introducing new products, services or entering new markets remain the top balance sheet priorities. This continued focus on investment will be vital for resilience moving forward.”

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

Previous editions

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2021 Q4
Going for Growth

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2021 Q3
Investment is the focus

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2021 Q2
Growth is the priority

The Deloitte CFO Survey: 2021 Q1
CFO optimism reaches record levels

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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