Senior financial executives of mid-sized companies planning to invest abroad are eyeing safer markets in a shift from a risk-rewarding to a minimum risk culture, BDO’s annual ambition survey reveals.

Almost a third (66%) of the financial executives surveyed by BDO are focusing on safe havens for foreign investors such as the US, UK, Germany and key emerging markets.

The survey found increased interest in BRIC countries, with 45% of financial executives stating they were already investing or planning to invest in Brazil, Russia, India or China; up from 29% in last year’s survey.

"Our 2012 survey shows that a significant proportion of the CFOs questioned are setting their sights on a ‘big seven’ of attractive investment destinations: these ‘safe haven’ markets include not only the more established markets of the US, UK and Germany, but also the BRIC countries," BDO International chief executive Martin van Roekel explained.

International expansion is still considered a driver of growth for a majority of executives (62%) but at the same time they find it more difficult now to conduct business abroad than three years ago.


The executives surveyed said there are three main reasons why conducting business abroad has become harder: 25% pointed to increased regulatory demands; 22% said increased competition and 31% said the poor economic situation was creating the biggest challenge.

According to BDO currency fluctuations and geopolitical risks have now been replaced by red tape and bureaucracy as the top threats hindering investments abroad.

BDO survey also includes a global risk index featuring the top twenty countries deemed as being most risky to invest in by financial executives.

The ranking places Greece, Syria and Libya among the most risky.