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CFO Survey: Optimism on business opportunities decreasing

Swedish CFOs see a worsening of business opportunities following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the same time that geopolitical risks are now perceived to pose the most significant risk going forward. This is according to Deloitte in SEB’s most recent CFO Survey.

“Just when we thought things were returning to a more normal situation, with an opening of societies and normalisation of economic activity after the pandemic, the world has been shocked by a new disaster in the form of the war in Ukraine. This is first and foremost a humanitarian and personal tragedy for many, but naturally it also has major economic consequences, not least as decades of globalisation have made nations and companies highly dependent on each other. We see this in this spring’s CFO Survey, where the perception of business opportunities can be summarised as average, compared with the more favourable situation we saw in the survey last autumn,” says Marcus Widén, economist at SEB.

The share of CFOs who see business opportunities as favourable during the coming six months has decreased in the spring CFO Survey to 48 per cent, compared to 73 per cent in the autumn survey. A large share, 45 per cent, view the opportunities as average, while only 7 per cent see them as unfavourable.   

The indicator for business opportunities, or the net balance between those with a positive view and those with a negative view, fell to 41 in the spring survey, from 70 last autumn. This is still slightly higher than the historical average, but means that the view of business opportunities has shifted from positive to more average. Responses to questions related to the financial outlook have also moved towards a more neutral average.

CFOs regard geopolitical risks as the most significant risk area during the coming 12 months, and it is also the risk category that increased the most in the spring CFO Survey. Of the respondents, 45 per cent indicated that they now regard geopolitical risks as the greatest, which is an increase from 20 per cent in the autumn survey. 

“As expected, the view of risks has changed in the spring survey, and more than two out of five CFOs now see geopolitical risks as the greatest risk category,” says Robert Bergström, partner at Deloitte. “The same applies for risks related to the shortage of qualified staff and rising prices. These risks began surfacing already last autumn, but grew more salient during the winter. The effects that the war in Ukraine are expected to have will intensify the already strained conditions.”

About the survey
The CFO Survey was conducted in March 2022 and is based on a number of questions that were presented to and answered by selected participants via a web-based questionnaire. The CFOs who participated in the survey represent a cross-section of major Swedish companies from various sectors. www.cfosurvey.se

For more information, please contact:
Marcus Widén, Economist, SEB
+46 70 639 1057

Press contact:
Frank Hojem, Chief Corporate Communication
+46 70 763 9947

SEB is a leading northern European financial services group with a strong belief that entrepreneurial minds and innovative companies are key in creating a better world. We take a long-term perspective and support our customers in good times and bad. In Sweden and the Baltic countries, SEB offers financial advice and a wide range of financial services. In Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom, the bank's operations have a strong focus on corporate and investment banking based on a full-service offering to corporate and institutional clients. The international nature of SEB's business is reflected in our presence in more than 20 countries worldwide, with around 16,000 employees. At 31 March 2022, the Group's total assets amounted to SEK 3,766bn while its assets under management totalled SEK 2,432bn. Read more about SEB at sebgroup.com.