Now is a good time to take risks on balance sheets, according to 45% of respondents to Deloitte’s Q2 2013 chief financial officer (CFO) survey, the highest level in six years, and double the same period from last year.
This more risk friendly attitude was also reflecting in the number of CFOs focusing on cost reduction, which fell from 42% in Q1 2013 to 34% in Q2.
There were a number of reasons for the new, more expansionary, outlook for British business, including credit conditions, which 53% of CFOs viewed as cheap and 56% saw as easily available.
At the same time, 73% of CFOs said their businesses face an above normal, high or very high level of external macroeconomic uncertainty, down from a peak of 97% in late 2011, whilst respondents rated the chance of a euro break up at 9%, down from 36% in 2012.
Businesses that derived over 70% of their revenues from the UK became more expansionary than in any survey in the last two years, in contrast to the normally more expansionary international businesses, which became markedly more defensive in Q2.
Encouragingly, CFOs thought that the UK was only 23% likely to have a recession in the next two years.
"CFOs’ willingness to take risk on to their balance sheets has risen to the highest level we have ever recorded. The recession-era focus on cost-cutting and debt reduction is easing," Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart said.
Stewart said the survey was conducted in the second half of June amid turbulence in the financial markets due to the withdrawal of quantitative easing in the US and a cash crunch in China.
"Yet despite this challenging backdrop CFO perception of risk has fallen while optimism and risk appetite have risen," Stewart added.