There are just under three months until Britons vote for whether the UK should stay or leave the European Union and businesses across the nation are navigating through uncertain territory.
Basically, we don’t know if Britain is going to leave the 28-nation bloc or not after the vote on June 23 and this is causing some strain over how companies conduct their businesses.
Deloitte has just published its 35th quarterly survey of 120 Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Group Finance Directors of major companies in the UK, and it shows that a significant number of firms are under-prepared for a potential Brexit.
On top of that, the survey showed that 83% of CFOs think, “the level of uncertainty facing their business is above normal, high, or very high.” This is up from 64% in the last quarter and is at the highest level since Q4 2012.
The 2016 Q1 survey took place between March 8 and March 21.
While 120 CFOs doesn’t sound like a big sample size, it’s actually pretty significant. The survey includes 20 FTSE 100 CFOs and 55 FTSE 250 company chiefs. Overall, the combined market value of the 84 UK-listed companies surveyed is £360 billion, or approximately 17% of the UK-quoted equity market.
So, actually, the survey offers a pretty decent insight into what some of Britain’s biggest companies are doing and thinking.
Here are some of the other key stats taken from the report:
- 89% say EU membership has helped UK export performance.
- 86% say EU membership has attracted foreign direct investment.
- 71% say EU membership has contributed to the success of UK financial services.
- 68% say EU membership has boosted the UK’s influence and connections with the rest of the world.
- On a scale of 0 to 100 (where 100 is the greatest risk) CFOs gave the EU referendum a risk rating of 54.
- 75% of CFOs say now is a bad time to take risk onto their balance sheets, up from 63% in Q4 and the highest level since Q4 2012.
- Just 18% say they plan to increase hiring within their companies, down from 40% in Q4 and the lowest level since Q4 2012.
- 40% of CFOs say cost reduction is a strong priority.
- 13% say asset disposals are a priority — the highest level since Q1 2013.
- 77% of CFOs say now is a bad time for UK corporates to issue equity