European business climate cooling but still optimistic: slightly above average outlook for financial services - Banking blog


This year looks likely to continue the titanic battle between risk and growth. Just when growth seemed to be winning, risk made a come-back and at the moment both seem pretty evenly matched. Business sentiment among European CFOs has cooled compared to autumn 2017, but it remains optimistic, as the latest results of the European CFO Survey show. Optimism among financial service (FS) CFOs is slightly above the European average, but is slightly below for Swiss CFOs from all industries.

Confidence among FS CFOs about future financial prospects for their own company fell slightly compared to the Autumn 2017 Survey, but remains above the European average. 40% of FS CFOs are more optimistic and 9% less so; for the rest sentiment remains unchanged. Compared to other industries, CFOs in financial services are ‘in the middle’, with those in some sectors such as TMT and industrial products more optimistic, and those in others such as life sciences and automotive are less so.

While expectations about their company’s revenues among FS CFOs are below average, they remain quite optimistic. (There is a positive net balance of 62%, the difference between the proportion expecting revenues to increase and those expecting a fall). However, expectations for increases in margins are second lowest among all industries and quite low overall (net balance 15%). In general, FS CFOs expect their company to increase the number of employees within the next 12 months (net balance 10%, which remains lower than in other industries).

Perceptions of external uncertainties FS CFOs improved compared to the previous Survey, but this has not translated into a greater willingness to take on more risk. Among the risks considered for the Survey, FS CFOs perceive a fall in asset prices as the one with the highest potential impact on their companies, followed by a new Eurozone crisis. A hard Brexit is seen as the risk with second-lowest potential impact, something with which Swiss bank CFOs agree. (Only Irish CFOs see Brexit as a substantial risk.) A rise in protectionism is seen as the most likely risk event, but with only a moderate impact.

Perception of global risks – Financial services sector

Over the next 12 to 24 months, how do you rate these risks to the global economy, in terms of their likelihood and their potential impact?


Note: This question was not asked in Denmark, Russia and the UK

Source: Deloitte CFO Surveys

About the Deloitte CFO Surveys

Deloitte conducts CFO Surveys in more than 60 countries. Since 2015, results from European countries have been compiled into a single report, the European CFO Survey. You find the full results and country comparisons here. The Swiss CFO Survey is the only survey of its kind in Switzerland and has been conducted quarterly since 2009. A total of 100 CFOs took part in the first half-year 2018 survey, representing listed companies as well as privately owned firms from every major sector of the Swiss economy. Full results are available here.



Michael Grampp - Research Director & Chief Economist, Communications & Digital

Michael is Deloitte’s Chief Economist in Switzerland. He has been with Deloitte for ten years and leads the Swiss Research team which produces thought leadership publications and studies. Previously, Michael was a consultant, has also held management positions in various industries and was a startup founder. He has a master’s degree in economics, marketing and a PhD in business administration.



Dennis Brandes - Research Manager, Zurich

Dennis is a Research Manager at Deloitte Insight Switzerland in Zurich, specializing on the Swiss economy, the Swiss CFO Survey and the financial services industry. He joined Deloitte in December 2010 after 5 years in the research department of one of the largest Swiss banks, where he had focused on the international aspects of the Swiss economy. Dennis holds a Master Degree in Economics from the University of Basel.