Economic optimism among Polish CFOs is weakening

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In the next 12 months, economy in Poland will shift to a lower gear – as shown by results of a survey conducted among financial directors.

Compared to the previous edition of the survey, the mood among CFOs has deteriorated. In 2015, as many as 55% of respondents had an optimistic view of the economic outlooks for the next twelve months, but this year the number dropped to 32 percent. Nevertheless, there are still more optimists than pessimists (32 percent / 19 percent).

In my opinion, saying that the results of the survey among CFOs herald an economic crisis in our country is a bit far-fetched – says Tomasz Wróblewski, Managing Partner of Grant Thornton. – However, it is hardly surprising that the number of pessimists is catching up with the number of optimists. On the one hand, the rate of economic growth is falling, and our main commercial partners from the EU seem to be short of breath. Plus, there is a growing shortage of employees. On the other hand, entrepreneurs are still waiting for simplified business rules and a more significant dose of EU funding, but the results of the survey show that they are slowly running out of patience – he adds.

How do you assess the prospects for your company for the next 12 months? (in %)

The slightly worse sentiment among CFOs is also shown in the analysis of their forecasts for other economic categories. The participants of the survey predict that the growth in demand will slow down in the next twelve months. Currently, only 40 percent of respondents believe that the demand for products and services offered by their companies will grow, while a year ago, this figure stood at 61 percent.

According to CFOs, in the coming year, companies will also show less willingness to invest. The percentage of CFOs declaring an increase in funds allocated to new market entries and new machine and equipment purchases has decreased from 74 to 61 percent and from 70 to 59 percent respectively.

The respondents also believe that the costs in the labour market are bound to increase. Accordingly, 41 percent of respondents – i.e. 15 p.p. more than last year – said that salaries in their companies would grow faster in the coming year than the rate of inflation.

CFOs realise that in order to keep the most skilled employees, i.e. those generating the greatest added value for the company, they will have to offer them better financial conditions. Thus, CFOs expect that in addition to decreasing revenues, labour costs will rise as well. As a result, they believe that profitability of their businesses in the nearest future will be under double pressure – both in terms of revenues and costs .

Surprisingly, despite the decreasing demand for products and services, and a lower percentage of financial directors declaring an increase in capital expenditure, the demand for new employees continues at a high level. What is more, the percentage of CFOs planning to increase employment is slightly growing – currently, as many as 41 percent of CFOs plan to increase the number of employees in their companies in the next twelve months – i.e. 4 p.p. more than last year.

 

CFOs in Poland do not operate conservatively – and similarly to previous years, when they supported development of investment in businesses, they now rely on investment in employees. Employment growth is a logical and safe alternative to investment in fixed assets. This also indicates a growing role of CFOs in, and their responsibility for the key competitive advantage – i.e. human capital – says Waldemar Wojtkowiak, Member of the Management Board and CFO at Towarzystwo Ubezpieczeń Euler Hermes.

The analysis was performed by an auditing, consulting and outsourcing company, Grant Thornton, and Euler Hermes Group, on the basis of surveys distributed among participants of the congress series: CFO of the Year, held in Sopot, Poznan, Rzeszow and Katowice in May this year.