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Finance leaders : cash continues to be king for CFOs

Focus on Strong Accounting Practices and Cashflow to Capitalise on Emerging Opportunities

Fears of a 'double-dip' recession appear to have dissipated, as UK finance leaders reveal the greatest concerns they currently face in a new survey by Robert Half. More than four in 10 (44%) CFOs surveyed believe managing the balance sheets is their biggest concern, up more than 10 points from 2009[1]. The same number cited cash flow as a major concern, with this figure rising to 49% and 48%, respectively, amongst SMEs and private companies. Only 1% of respondents are concerned about the threat of a 'double-dip recession' and there was a significant increase from 2009 in the number of CFOs concerned about managing growth, suggesting companies are more confident about the economic outlook.

The survey, developed by Robert Half, a leading provider of specialised recruitment services, was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with more than 200 CFOs at companies throughout the UK.

CFOs were asked, "Which, if any, of the following would you say are the three biggest concerns that you currently face in your role?"

Their responses:
Managing the balance sheets : 33% (2009) & 44% (2010)
Cash flow : 47% - 44%
Uncertain economic outlook and effect on forecasting : 45% - 37%
Managing growth : 9% - 34%
Meeting future financing needs cost effectively : 36% - 27%

"Finance leaders are placing more emphasis on maintaining strong accounting practices and cash flow to capitalise on emerging opportunities, particularly in the SME and private sectors," said Phil Sheridan, Managing Director of Robert Half UK. "Companies are also showing signs of increased confidence, with the number of CFOs concerned about managing growth nearly quadrupling from 9% in 2009 to 34% in this year's survey, indicating the higher number of business opportunities that are now available."

When asked about their top priorities, raising capital has risen up the agenda, with more than one half (53%) of respondents citing this as a priority, against one third last year. In the private sector, this number rises to 73%, suggesting that companies are ready to start investing once again.

CFOs were also asked "Which do you think are going to be the top three priorities for your business in the next 12 months?"
Their responses:
Raising capital / re-financing : 33% (2009)(2) - 53% (2010)
Business process improvement : 49% - 51%
Audit and compliance : 20% - 34%
Looking for investment opportunities : 11% - 26%
New product / service expansion : 54% - 23%

Sheridan adds, "The findings offer an encouraging sign that organisations are increasingly looking for investment opportunities with a renewed focus on growth, in lieu of survival, in today's business environment."

About the Survey
The national study was developed by Robert Half, a leading provider of highly skilled professionals on a temporary, interim and permanent basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 200 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sample of UK companies. For the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region and number of employees.

A white paper based on the study results entitled, "Looking Ahead: New Challenges, New Priorities for UK CFOs" is available for download here. The paper provides an in-depth study of the issues facing UK CFOs.

About Robert Half
Robert Half pioneered specialised staffing services and today is the world's leader in the field. Founded in 1948, the company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: RHI) and operates five separate divisions in the UK, each serving distinct markets. They include: Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and project professionals, respectively, in the fields of accounting and finance; OfficeTeam, for administrative support, Robert Half Financial Services Group, for finance and banking professionals and Robert Half Technology, for IT professionals. There are more than 350 Robert Half locations in North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. For more information about Robert Half please visit: roberthalf.co.uk

[1] 2009 CFO study by Robert Half conducted in August 2009 surveying 200 CFOs at companies throughout the UK
[2] Note that in the 2009 survey the exact wording of the question was: "Which, if any, of the following would you say are going to be the top three priorities for the business once the economy starts to recover?"

Dimanche 14 Novembre 2010

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