UK CFOs optimistic about national business performance in 2018

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Following years of economic upheaval, UK CFOs are now optimistic about national business performance in 2018 according to new research from American Express and Institutional Investor.

This year's Global Business and Spending Outlook surveyed 100 senior finance executives in the UK to reveal that UK CFOs are amongst the most confident in Europe. 91 per cent of respondents anticipate domestic economic expansion this year with 38 per cent expecting substantial growth.

In this year's study, 74 per cent of UK CFOs reported increased revenues over the last 12 months versus 54 per cent globally. This confidence is also reflected by the fact that the country's CFOs plan to increase spending and investment in their businesses by 8.6 per cent over the course of the year.

While confidence has increased among CFOs in the UK, many remain watchful with 83 per cent concerned that widely unanticipated economic or political events could negatively affect their businesses. The research also revealed that uncertainty outside the UK is more of a concern that risk from within it though half of respondents (53%) said that they would be unlikely to withdraw from high-risk countries in response to either political or economic risk.

To help combat uncertainty, CFOs have begun to take careful steps to manage and mitigate risks. Of those surveyed, 63 per cent said they are focused on moderate and controlled spending as opposed to aggressive investment. CFOS plan to increase time and resources dedicated to enterprise-level risk management systems (59%) and managing risks through insurance and hedging tactics (65%).

Executive VP at American Express Global Commercial Services, Jose Carvalho commented on CFOs return to normalcy after a long period of economic uncertainty, saying:

“While there’s no denying that we have a long way to go until the political and economic concerns of the UK’s business leaders are pacified, it is hugely encouraging to see leading CFOs’ focusing on shifting back to operational norms. In particular, a focus on how they can better serve their customers suggests that, after weathering a lengthy economic storm, CFOs have returned to thinking about long-term success. This can only be good news for the future of UK business.’’

“Our study shows that CFOs rightly recognise that technology has a big role to play in helping their businesses stay ahead – with almost three-quarters (74%) saying they have already invested in AI. To remain competitive on the world stage, it will be important for CFOs in the UK to continue to balance investment in innovation against the costs associated with mitigating risk.’’

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