If you haven’t come across the survey results from Deloitte on CFOs – ‘defensive strategies’ are said to be a key focus this year, mostly influenced by, dare I say it - Brexit.
It’s this high level of uncertainty, according to the organisation’s findings, that’s causing the majority of CFOs to pay close attention to cost control and cash flow – with both things coming in at top of the priority list for this year.
For those unaware of the survey results, here are the top 8 things said to be keeping CFOs awake at night:
Increasing cash flow
Introducing new products/services or expanding into new markets
Expanding by acquisition
Raising dividends or share buybacks
Disposing of assets
Increasing capital expenditure
Interestingly, Scottish accountancy body ICAS also revealed some similar findings among Finance Directors.
I’ve listed the top 10 items from ICAS below:
Recruitment and retention
Other IT issues
E-commerce and the internet
Bringing new products and services to the market
I for one wasn’t surprised to see cost control, revenue growth and recruitment in either of these lists – They’ve always lurked somewhere among the top priorities of chief finance professionals throughout the UK.
Focusing on recruitment specifically, Deloitte states that while some businesses see recruitment as a potential risk, 44% of businesses say it’s the actual challenges surrounding recruitment that’s the issue – i.e. a rise in skill shortages.
ICAS, on the other hand, reports that half of their respondents will be increasing their hiring efforts throughout the next 12 months, while 18% plan to reduce hiring during the same time. In terms of redundancy, 23% of Finance Directors are expecting these to take place within their businesses during the remainder of the year - a 6% increase on last year.
Of course, no one can predict the future, making uncertainty a recurring theme among most businesses - even more so now as we sit and wait for deals to be made. However, preparing for all economic scenarios is where the real challenge lies for many finance chiefs. While many plan to invest in talent, any recruitment decisions are, and always will be, expected to almost immediately reflect on profitability.