Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 15th November 2018
Confidence among chief financial officers (CFOs) in the UK is very much on the slide, according to a new set of figures.
The professional services firm Deloitte frequently quizzes CFOs from across Europe to get a sense of their overall mood and the latest polling puts UK-based finance chiefs firmly among the most pessimistic.
A total of 1,373 CFOs took part in the survey between August and September, with confidence found to have declined by as much as 26 per cent among UK-based respondents since the spring of this year.
In fact, CFOs across the country were found to be almost as pessimistic in the third quarter of 2018 as they were in 2016 and immediately after the result of the UK’s EU referendum.
The lack of clarity around Brexit and the terms upon which the UK will depart the EU has been a major headache particularly for British companies and their finance bosses in recent quarters.
This is reflected in Deloitte’s survey results which show that UK-based CFOs have the highest levels of uncertainty in Europe and the lowest levels of expectation when it comes to the prospect of taking on new employees in the coming months.
Despite economic growth and falling unemployment, there is relatively little optimism for the future from a financial perspective for the CFOs polled from within the UK in recent weeks.
Deloitte’s interpretation of its own information is that concerns and uncertainties about Brexit are over-riding what might otherwise be causes for optimism among CFOs operating within the UK economy.
“The drop in business confidence highlights the effect a possible no-deal Brexit is having on businesses across the UK,” said David Proul, a senior partner and chief executive at Deloitte.
“Our survey shows that access to skills is an increasingly pressing issue,” he added.
Respondents to Deloitte’s CFO Survey are generally from large scale companies but small businesses too are expected to struggle with skills and staff shortages as the UK transitions out of the EU.
The Federation of Small Businesses recently said that one in three small firms in Britain is being “held back by lack of skills”, with that proportion said to have increased from one in four over the course of the last 12 months.