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Paradox: CFOs maintain optimism for North America, but not their own companies

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CFOs' outlook for other global economies is mixed. Just 5% of CFOs describe Europe's economy as good or very good (up from 2% last quarter), but the proportion of CFOs describing it as bad falls from more than 70% over the past two quarters to 46% this quarter. Nearly 30% of CFOs believe Europe's economy will be better off a year from now, up from 27% in Q2 2014. Twenty-three percent of CFOs say China's economy is good, up from 18% last quarter, and 20% describe it as bad, up from 16% last quarter.

"This quarter's survey marks a significant shift in CFOs' expectations for their companies' performance over the next year," said Greg Dickinson, director, Deloitte LLP, who leads the survey. "Although they again voice considerable confidence in the trajectory of North American and other major economies, their declining sales and earnings expectations seem to indicate significant concern about the next twelve months."   

Surveyed CFOs are also concerned about a number of internal and external risks. Externally, issues that continue to be challenging for CFOs include global economic concerns like risks associated with trade and FX impacts of central banks' monetary policies. CFOs believe rising commodity prices and the burden of government regulation are priority concerns as well. From an internal standpoint, attracting and retaining finance talent remains an ongoing issue. More than 70% of CFOs cite initial shortages of consultative, partnering, analytical and technical skills among staff.

Crisis preparedness is another issue weighing on CFOs this quarter, with cyber-security attacks cited as the most threatening potential crisis. Almost one-fourth of CFOs say they are insufficiently prepared for an attack and only 10% feel well-prepared. Technology and Financial Services CFOs feel the most unprepared, with 50% and 30% citing this concern, respectively. Eighty-five percent of CFOs consider malicious attacks such as terrorism or tampering a major concern, while only four percent feel well-prepared.  

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