Mumbai, March 2023: A recent survey of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) in India, conducted by Dun & Bradstreet India, a leading global provider of business decisioning data and analytics, found that CFOs’ confidence in financial and macro-economic conditions has declined over the same quarter in the previous year. The pan-India survey compared the confidence levels of CFOs for Q1 2023 with the previous quarter.

Key findings from the survey:

• The Composite CFO Optimism Index declined by 7.8% (y-o-y) to 96.1 in Q1 2023. However, the index increased by 8.3% on a q-o-q basis

• The optimism level for overall macroeconomic scenario declined by 18.2% (y-o-y) in Q1 2023

• Only 35% of CFOs expect an increase in the operating margin of their company in Q1 2023, lowest in 10 quarters

• Only 7% of CFOs in the industrial sector expect the level of financial risks to decrease in Q1 2023, lowest since Q2 2012

• Optimism for raising short term funds is highest since Q2 2012

• Overall scenario for mergers and acquisitions is highest since Q2 2022

• Risk appetite of the CFOs in the industrial sector is highest since Q1 2020

The Dun & Bradstreet India Composite CFO Optimism Index analyses the optimism level of CFOs on 12 parameters: operating margin, liquidity position, level of financial risk on company’s balance sheet, risk appetite, need for raising short-term and long-term funds, cost of raising funds, availability of funds, domestic and global macroeconomic scenario, overall scenario for mergers and acquisitions, and level of financial risks for corporate sector.

Commenting on the findings of the survey, Arun Singh, Global Chief Economist, Dun & Bradstreet, said: ”The optimism level of CFOs has been subdued for five consecutive quarters, although the pace of decline moderated in Q1 2023. Even as the outlook for domestic growth remains positive, businesses remain wary about the economic developments in the domestic and global market. India’s growth forecast has been revised downwards in the last few months as core inflation has not yet abated, and interest rates are still inching up. As the global economy is headed towards a synchronized economic slowdown, export prospects remain weak. Reflecting upon the risk to the economic and business environment, CFOs remained cautious about operating margin and liquidity position – the optimism for which fell to a 10-quarter low in Q1 2023. Amidst the low optimism for profitability and liquidity position, the need for short term funds – an indicator for working capital – has surged to the highest level since Q2 2012, indicating a tightening of cash flow conditions. Businesses should remain vigilant and increase the close monitoring of strategic accounts and focus on effective recovery system”’.