CFOs predict more flexible and home working
Changes will be in place for some time, say finance leaders
Finance leaders expect flexible and home working to increase after the pandemic, with a five-fold increase in home working by 2025.
They also expect a return to growth in 2021 with optimism rising to a record high, according to Deloitte’s latest CFO survey.
Respondents said the impact of the pandemic would mean corporate and individual taxation was likely to rise, with nearly two-thirds (62%) anticipating higher regulation of the corporate sector and 59% saying the role of government in the economy will increase.
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.
There was a sharp improvement in CFO expectations for UK corporates’ revenues this quarter with 71% expecting a rise over the next 12 months, sharply higher than the 29% response in Q3, while over half (53%) of CFOs expected operating costs to rise.
The Deloitte CFO survey for Q4 2020, which gauges sentiment amongst the UK’s largest businesses, took place between 2 December and 14 December, so before new COVID restrictions announced on 19 December and the Brexit deal on 24 December.
A total of 90 CFOs participated in the latest survey, including CFOs of 12 FTSE 100 and 44 FTSE 250 companies. The combined market value of the UK-listed companies that participated is £308 billion, approximately 13% of the UK quoted equity market.
Richard Houston, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK, said: “The pandemic has triggered fundamental and lasting changes in business, with CFOs expecting rising levels of home-working, greater diversification of supply chains and increasing investment in technology.
“CFOs are optimistic about operating in this changing world, with a return to growth expected this year. However, with pandemic restrictions expected to be in place through the first half of this year and elevated uncertainty CFOs are maintaining defensive balance sheet positioning.”