Monday 16 November 2015 12:01 am

Finance executives feel UK business outlook is bleak, and confidence is low across Europe in general

More than a quarter (29 per cent) of UK chief financial officers (CFOs) feel less optimistic about the financial prospects of their business than they did three months ago, according to a Deloitte report released today.

Of the UK CFOs questioned for Deloitte’s latest European CFO Survey, which surveyed a total of 1,298 CFOs across 15 European countries, just less than three-quarters (73 per cent) believed their business faced a high level of financial and economic uncertainty from outside sources.

The UK’s CFOs are slightly less upbeat than those across Europe as a whole. Only 23 per cent of all those surveyed said they felt less optimistic about their business’s financial prospects and 66 per cent said they felt they were facing a high level of uncertainty.

But, David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK, said: “Despite high levels of uncertainty among UK CFOs businesses here are among the most positive on risk appetite, hiring intentions and revenue growth. UK CFOs also have a stronger focus on growth than the majority of their continental colleagues for whom cost control is the main priority.”

Speaking to City A.M., Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte UK said that for the UK CFOs, whose companies tended to be large with overseas exposure, “the big news over the last three months has been the deterioration in the outlook for emerging markets, and particularly Russia, Brazil and China.”

The survey was conducted before the terrorist attacks in Paris took place late last Friday.

But Stewart said that, although such events do create a level of uncertainty, “my general experience is that, although it’s a huge political event and terrible event, actually the economic effects are probably likely to be limited and transient.”