Financial repair, economic uncertainty

Deloitte CFO Services publishes results of the first quarter 2010 Belgian CFO Survey
26 May 2010

Brussels, 25 May 2010 – The first 2010 quarter Deloitte CFO survey suggests that Belgian CFOs are anticipating a sluggish recovery. Nevertheless, while remaining focused on cost and cash flow management, CFOs see the financial environment improving. They are thinking beyond the crisis and starting to plan for growth.

The first 2010 edition of the Deloitte Belgium CFO Survey,“Financial Repair, Economic Uncertainty”, conducted from 15 March to 10 April, is published today. It continues on from last year’s quarterly poll exploring the changing attitudes of CFOs in this country as their firms cope with this particularly challenging period.

Still haunted by uncertainty

The first-quarter survey shows that after rising abruptly last year, business optimism has stabilised in response to uncertainty about the pace of recovery. Three months ago, 65% of CFOs expected the recovery to accelerate in 2010. Now less than half think so. “Expectations on the timing of the accelerated demand for products and services have been pushed back towards 2011,” remarked Thierry Van Schoubroeck, Partner, Deloitte CFO Services, who conducted the survey. “And deteriorating cash flow expectations suggest the possibility of a second dip for some corporates.”

CFOs definitely see risk ahead. And the current euro crisis, which accelerated after the survey was completed, might already prove them right.

Good news too

Yet the poll also revealed favourable indications. With CFOs reporting improved cost and availability of bank credit, the attractiveness of bank borrowing has seen the biggest jump since the survey began. Risk reduction seems to be drawing to a close. Crisis management measures, such as headcount reduction, marketing cuts and reducing capital spend, are no longer as universal as they were a year ago. On the other hand, CFOs are expressing increasing interest in delocalisation as a structural measure of cost reduction.

In another positive finding, Thierry Van Schoubroeck noted that, in 2009, few CFOs focused on strategic planning or on developing new products and services. “Now, however, revenue growth is again a top priority for almost three quarters of survey respondents,” he observed.

Highlights of the first 2010 CFO Survey

About the survey

The 2010 first-quarter edition of the Deloitte Belgium CFO Survey was conducted from 15 March to 10 April. A total of 48 CFOs took part, 50% representing listed companies with the rest representing privately held firms. Covering a variety of industries, 41% of the participating companies had a turnover of over €1 billion, 36% earned €100 million to €1 billion, and 23% earned less than €100 million.