Welcome to the fourth edition of the European CFO Survey, a major initiative of the EMEA CFO Programme. The Q3 2016 Survey presents the opinions from over 1,100 CFOs across 17 European countries, giving access to a wide comparison of national sentiment in a continuing period of economic uncertainty.
These opinions are focused around topics such as risk appetite, financial prospects, and strategic priorities, as well as this quarter's special questions on BREXIT: The survey details how CFOs believe the negotiations between the EU27 and the UK will impact their business, and which aspects of Brexit would affect their business the most. Download the report to find out more.
Businesses across Europe have had a number of political shocks to contend with over the summer and two-thirds of CFOs view current levels of uncertainty as above normal
Combined with a background of modest growth in Europe, CFO optimism remains broadly unchanged
CFOs continue to be risk averse, with less than a third believing now is a good time to be taking greater risk onto their balance sheets.
...as Brexit fears mount
Overwhelmingly, European CFOs think Brexit holds many more potential negatives than positives from the process: 37% think the negotiations will have a negative impact on their business, while just 5% foresee any positives
A rise in non-tariff barriers to trade – specifically 'increased complexity and costs due to the introduction of different regulatory requirements' – rates as the biggest concern for 12 of 14 countries asked
As a whole, 'reduced workforce mobility' and a 'rise in tariffs' rank as the next biggest concerns. The message for politicians and policymakers - ahead of the Brexit negotiations – is that non-tariff barriers matter at least as much, if not more, than the more-talked-about issues of tariffs and migration.
But confidence in growth remains high
Despite the difficult business environment they are currently facing, CFOs across Europe believe their businesses will cope and see growth over the next 12 months.
This may reflect the fact that CFOs are well acquainted with this environment, having operated in a climate of uncertainty for some time now, and may also illustrate an underlying resilience in Europe's corporate sector, which has endured years of slow growth and external shocks, but has started to show signs of a more sustained recovery this year
The outlook for revenue and margin growth over the next 12 months remains positive, as does the outlook for capital expenditure (capex) and hiring. Monetary policy remains extremely accommodative in most countries on our panel and, as a result, financing conditions for large corporates remain positive, with bank borrowing and corporate debt viewed as very attractive, as is internal financing
Although forecast GDP growth of 1.6% for the eurozone is uninspiring, it would represent the third consecutive year of growth for the bloc – the first time this has been achieved since before the global financial crisis.
On 16 March 2017, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 gave the Prime Minister the power to trigger the Brexit process by giving notice under Article 50(2) of the UK's intention to leave the EU.
With the dawning of a new age, that of the separation of the UK from the EU and all that it entails, British businesses that depend on the European market must find ways of maintaining a foothold in Europe.
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