UK finance chiefs anticipate return to growth and lasting change in 2021

Finance leaders expect a return to growth in 2021 with optimism rising to a record high, according to Deloitte’s latest survey of chief financial officers (CFO).

Despite the surge in business optimism, half of CFOs do not expect demand for their own businesses to recover to pre-pandemic levels until the last quarter of 2021 or later.

A total of 90 CFOs participated in the latest survey, including those at 12 FTSE 100 and 44 FTSE 250 companies.

There has been a sharp improvement in CFO expectations for UK corporates’ revenues this quarter, with 71% expecting a rise over the next 12 months, up from 29% in the third quarter of 2020, while 53% expect operating costs to rise.

For the first time since 2015, a net balance of CFOs are expecting corporate operating margins to increase in the next year.

Risk appetite remains weak though, with only 19% believing it

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