Brexit worries force CFOs to curb UK investment

The UK’s top CFO’s are implementing risk aversion strategies in the face of continued Brexit uncertainty over the year ahead, with  almost all believing that the prospect of widely unanticipated surprise events is a rapidly growing concern for their company, a poll of senior finance executives has found

The research by American Express in collaboration with Institutional Investor surveyed 100 CFOs in the UK, more than three quarters of whom represent companies that report revenues of $1bn or more. 

The results show that although the UK’s CFOs expect domestic economic expansion over the next year, the current economic and political climate in the UK and abroad is a significant concern. Among UK respondents, almost all (89%) believe that the prospect of widely unanticipated surprise events is a rapidly growing concern for their company.

As a result, 63% of senior finance executives report that their companies are more cautious about increasing spending and investment in the UK, and 77% are more cautious about investing abroad. Levels of caution are higher than the previous year on both fronts.

Three quarters (76%) of CFOs also plan to increase time, attention and resources directed towards enterprise-level risk management systems and process improvements – as well as protecting the company’s physical assets. Almost two-thirds (62%) of the UK’s CFOs also report that, as a direct response to economic or political uncertainty, their companies are likely to withdraw business activities from high risk geographic areas and focus on lower risk areas over the next year.

Despite this, the majority (68%) report increased revenue growth over the previous 12 months. This figure is higher than the global average (65%).

Carlos Carriedo, senior vice president at American Express said: ‘The UK’s businesses continue to operate in a challenging climate but they are clear-sighted and determined in their strategies for growth and managing risk. Their resilience in the face of adversity, and positive reported revenue growth, is encouraging.’

Pat Sweet


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