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CFOs 'looking to expand'

26/07/13

Chief financial officers (CFOs) across the UK business world are hoping to expand and take risk on to their balance sheets, with expectations for hiring and investment back up to levels last seen in 2011.

This could be good news for recruitment in the sector, with the Deloitte CFO survey gauging the views of 37 leaders from FTSE 100 companies and 45 from FTSE 250 companies.

Some 45 per cent are now willing to place more liquidity on to their balance sheets, indicating that the financial market could be in better shape than it has been over the last few years.

"Business optimism has been improving for some time but our latest survey shows that CFOs are translating this confidence into action. Rising risk appetite and a shift towards expansion show that large UK corporates are increasingly planning for growth," said Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart.

He added that expansion appears to have returned to many agendas, with the former focus on cost-cutting and debt reduction easing off for many CFOs keen to help their businesses improve their position.

Promisingly, Mr Stewart also pointed out that the survey was undertaken in June during a period of turbulence in the financial markets caused by concerns about the withdrawal of quantitative easing in the US and a cash crunch in China, but the positivity levels remained strong.

Hopefully this indicates that the recovery is not simply a reaction to immediate events but a sustained effort to return the UK's business world to growth.

CFOs also expressed strong levels of support for the Bank of England, hailing its performance on inflation, the pound and providing monetary stimulus to the economy - providing a boost to newly-arrived governor Mark Carney.

However, he is also facing a number of significant challenges - the bank's performance on getting credit to businesses was rated as poor or worse, while the overwhelming majority of respondents do not think the bank will keep inflation below two per cent.

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