As we head into the new year, Australian CFOs remain confident about business prospects, although cautious about the country’s economic outlook due to inflation and interest rates rise. According to the most recent edition of Deloitte’s biannual CFO Sentiment survey, conducted late last year, a net 66% of CFOs were feeling optimistic about the financial prospects of their company as 2022 ended. While these results were like those recorded in the first half of 2022, optimism about the Australian economy was worryingly low (-22 net optimism). The report states that the “disparity reflects growing concern around the Australian and global economy”, and notes however, that “CFOs appear able to see a path through the turmoil when it comes to their own business”. The survey also found that CFOs were particularly concerned about cyber risks and achieving environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) objectives. Other key findings from the survey include: 92% rate uncertainty levels as higher than normal, up slightly from six months ago, and close to an all-time high for the survey since it began in 2009, Only 20% of CFOs think now is a good time to take on risk – down from 58% at the end of 2021, 32% say their business had encountered at least one cyber security incident in the last 12 months, and less than half agree that their organisation is prepared to manage a significant cyber incident, and 46% of CFOs reported that their organisations are taking ESG action because it is the right thing to do but they are having to balance ESG investment decisions against competing priorities and external pressures. Deloitte partner, and CFO Program leader, Stephen Gustafson, said: “CFOs appear to be in two minds. Optimism is holding on the back of its recovery in the first half of 2022 despite back-to-back declines during COVID lockdowns in late 2021 and emerging inflation earlier this year. But confidence about the economy is in very low territory. “Securing and retaining key talent, inflation and the threat of a global economic recession round out the top three risks identified, while data and cyber security capabilities have emerged as more pressing issues, rising to now be a top four risk of most concern.” Read the full Deloitte report here. Preparing your business for a year of growth? The Ayers Group can help you achieve your plans for business growth with comprehensive contractor management services and a customised payroll solution to streamline administration for your business and ensure compliance. For advice or to find out more, talk to an expert at The Ayers Group today.