The quarterly CFO Survey is firmly established with media and
policy makers as the authoritative barometer of UK corporates'
sentiment and strategies. It is the only survey of major corporate
users of capital that gauges attitudes to valuations, risk and
Optimism among UK CFOs reaches 18
Risk appetite rises, but remains
below long-term average
CFOs warming to expansionary measures
such as capex and hiring
Brexit remains the top concern but
effects on spending and hiring soften
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"The Brexit shock that hit corporate spirits last June has
eased. Optimism among CFOs has hit an 18-month high and uncertainty
has fallen from a post-referendum record high to levels last seen
in early 2016.
"Brexit still tops the risk list, although at a lower
reading than the last two quarters. CFOs believe the Brexit
headwinds have eased and see far less damage to their spending
plans than earlier expected. While most still see Brexit having an
adverse effect on the business environment, even here the degree of
negativity has fallen.
"Crucially, two longstanding sources of risk - concerns
about weakness in emerging markets and the euro area - have fallen
significantly. The decline in concern about the euro area is the
largest recorded for any risk factor, indicating growing confidence
about Europe's recovery.
"A more stable environment has bolstered corporate risk
appetite and a laser-like focus on cost control and building cash
flow has softened, with more weight placed on capital spending and
Ian Stewart, UK chief economist
"The UK's exit from the EU is a long and
uncertain process and business sentiment is changeable. But it is
clear from this survey that the UK corporate sector enters the
negotiation phase of Brexit in far better spirits than seemed
likely in the months after last year's referendum vote.
"Businesses will hope that the UK can secure the best
possible deal on trade and market access, but must continue to plan
for an exit in 2019, several years of trade negotiations, and a
transitional phase to bridge the two. For many businesses,
including our own, access to skills is one of the most pressing
issues they face. I believe mobility of people should be as high a
priority as trade in the future negotiations. If we are to maintain
the UK's status as an open and thriving economy we must retain
the diversity of skills that has helped our nation
David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive at
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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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