A CFO survey by Deloitte revealed that finance leaders in China see the country as a key growth driver in the post-pandemic world though concerns about a slow overseas rebound and geopolitical tensions remain, Deloitte China said recently.
Business transformation has emerged as a priority while CFOs plan to invest more in digital and talent to capture growth opportunities on the horizon in 2021, Deloitte China noted.
Among the CFOs surveyed, a massive 85% picked China as one of three regions that will command the most post-pandemic growth, according to Deloitte China CXO Program National Managing Partner Norman Sze.
“That’s because China was the first economy in the world to reopen and its widespread adoption of digital ways of doing business," Sze said.
Many other countries in the region have also made substantial progress in containing the spread of COVID-19 and resuming economic activity, which led 63% of respondents to pick Rest of Asia as a growth hotspot, Deloitte observed.
CFOs are growingly optimistic
Half of CFOs are more optimistic about the economy than they were six months ago, with 81% believing it will improve in 2021 and 89% expecting their businesses to perform better over the coming year, Deloitte said.
The relative containment of COVID-19 in Asia, global rollout of vaccinations and rising consumer demand in western economies for Asian exports have created the conditions for optimism, the company pointed out.
"As the world begins to rebound from the uncertainties of 2020, CFOs need to make concrete decisions about how to position their firms for the future,” said Deloitte China CFO Program National Managing Partner William Chou. “Opportunities are indeed emerging, but not without uncertainty and challenges."
- About three in five respondents are most concerned about the post-COVID recovery and two-fifths are primarily apprehensive about geopolitical issues.
- Strengthening risk assessments and controls (60%), accurately modelling cash flows (55%) and effectively monitoring and managing receivables (53%) are the main areas in which CFOs plan to address these challenges.
- CFOs also see a correlation between investing in technology and realising growth opportunities, with digital transformation (58%) and talent retention and development (45%) the top two priorities for capturing growth opportunities in 2021.
- In terms of digital technology, automation (53%) and IT resources (45%) will be the top investment targets.
- Investments in workforce enablement, which was a priority in 2021 amid the impact of the pandemic, will likely shift to AI, an area in which 40% of CFOs are now prioritising investment, up from 19% last year.
- With the pandemic and technology rapidly altering how we live and do business, over 70% said they will undergo a business transformation in the coming 6-12 months to increase their resilience.
- This has implications for workforces, with 82% of CFOs expecting to acquire or develop talent with different skillsets from their current mix of abilities.