Deloitte CFO Survey, Q2 2020 has been saved
Deloitte CFO Survey, Q2 2020
CFOs anticipate a slow and gradual recovery, as COVID-19 weighs on risk appetite
20 July 2020
- CFOs rank COVID-19 as the greatest risk facing their businesses, with Brexit ranking third after geopolitics
- Almost half of finance leaders do not expect demand for their own businesses to recover to pre-pandemic levels until after Q2 2021
- Two-thirds of CFOs (65%) expect their capital expenditure to decrease over the next three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic or Brexit
Finance leaders expect a slow pick-up in activity, with no quick bounce back anticipated, according to Deloitte’s latest CFO survey. Almost half of CFOs surveyed (49%) do not expect demand for their own businesses to recover to pre-pandemic levels until after Q2 2021.
The Deloitte CFO survey for Q2 2020, which gauges sentiment amongst the UK’s largest businesses, took place between 26th June and 8th July 2020.
A total of 109 CFOs participated in the latest survey, including CFOs of 23 FTSE 100 and 45 FTSE 250 companies. The combined market value of the UK-listed companies that participated is £404 billion, approximately 19% of the UK quoted equity market.
Revenue and risk appetite
In Q2, 78% of CFOs expect UK corporates’ revenues to decrease in the coming 12 months, the second-highest reading on record. This has eased slightly from Q1 where almost all respondents (97%) anticipated revenues to drop over the year ahead.
Perceptions of external uncertainty remain elevated. The majority of CFOs surveyed (80%) now feel there is a high or very high level of uncertainty facing their business, slightly lower than the record-high reading (89%) in the first quarter.
The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to take a heavy toll on economic activity. In Q2, 82% of finance leaders say they are unwilling to take risk onto their balance sheets. This is a slight improvement from the first quarter which saw the second-lowest reading for risk appetite on record.
CFO expectations for dividend payments and share buybacks remain close to their lowest level in ten years, as corporates look to shore up their balance sheets. The majority (86%), said dividend issuance and share buybacks by UK businesses will decrease over the next year.
The same number (86%) expect UK corporates to reduce capital expenditure in the next 12 months, maintaining the sentiment seen in Q1, where almost all (98%) anticipated a decrease. In Q2, hiring expectations remain pessimistic, albeit slightly improved from Q1, with 90% of CFOs expecting a reduction in hiring over the next year.
The impact of COVID-19 and Brexit
Business investment, which has slowed dramatically since the EU referendum, is expected to see a continued squeeze. Almost two-thirds of CFOs (65%) expect their capital expenditure to decrease over the next three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic or the UK leaving the EU. A quarter (25%) attribute this reduction to both the pandemic and Brexit.
CFOs rank the effects of COVID-19 as the greatest risk facing their businesses, while geopolitics ranks second, with Brexit taking the third spot, and economic weakness in the US.
Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, commented: “Major corporates are expecting a long haul back to pre-COVID levels of revenue. Almost half of them believe their own revenues will not recover for at least a year. COVID-19 overshadows all other sources of risk for UK CFOs, and by a wide margin.”
Strategy and spending
CFOs are heavily focused on defensive balance sheet strategies with 61% rating reducing costs and 52% rating increasing cash flow as strong priorities over the next 12 months.
Richard Houston, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK, said: “While CFOs are still focused on the impact of the pandemic, many are accelerating their adoption of new technologies and adapting their businesses to different ways of working.
“As the recovery begins, we expect all businesses will be looking for new opportunities and areas of growth.”
Notes to editors
This is the 52nd quarterly survey of Chief Financial Officers and Group Finance Directors of major companies in the UK. The 2020 second quarter survey took place between 26 June 2020 and 8 July 2020. 109 CFOs participated, including the CFOs of 23 FTSE 100 and 45 FTSE 250 companies. The rest were CFOs of other UK-listed companies, large private companies and UK subsidiaries of major companies listed overseas. The combined market value of the 76 UK-listed companies surveyed is £404 billion, or approximately 19% of the UK quoted equity market.
Launched in 2007, the Deloitte CFO Survey is the only survey of major corporate users of capital that gauges attitudes to valuations, risk and financing.
For copies of previous CFO surveys, please visit www.deloitte.co.uk/cfosurvey.
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Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NSE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.
The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.
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