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British FDs favour a majority Conservative government

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The survey secured the responses of some 2,000 leading financial professionals – determining where each believes they are getting the best service. Results from part of the survey determine the winners of the yearly FDs’ Excellence Awards, but we are able to share with you the final results from the remainder.

Financial decision makers have given their verdict on the coming election. We asked them to give a score out of five (with five being most favoured) for possible governments after 7 May, and here are the average scores.

  • Conservative outright win: 3.87
  • Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition: 3.15
  • Conservative and UKIP coalition: 2.54
  • Labour outright win: 2.3
  • Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition: 2.21
  • Labour and Scottish National Party coalition: 1.96

Keeping on the subject of politics, FDs and CFOs at the leading companies Real Business surveyed were also quizzed on how they feel about Europe. Their ultimate verdict? It’s very much good for business. Asked again to grade on a scale from one to five, the results were as follows.

  • UK membership of the EU is good for business: 3.92
  • Free movement of labour in the UK is good for business: 3.68
  • Leaving the EU would be good for UK business: 2.12

On this subject, one FD said: “The potential exit of the UK from the EU will put 300 jobs at risk at our office in London. My company works in the media sector for markets across Europe (we export 100 per cent) and our business will have to be relocated due to need for an EU valid license.”

Read more on previous FDs’ Satisfaction Survey findings:

Away from determining where political preferences exist, the FDs’ Satisfaction Survey, which has been run since 2001, also examined which organisations overseeing British businesses are favoured. For five key institutions, we collated these scores.

  • HMRC (VAT): 3.23
  • FRC (accounting standards and discipline): 3.18
  • HMRC (tax): 3.11
  • Industry regulator: 2.97
  • Local government: 2.77

On a similar theme of helping businesses meet potential, a section of the survey went into detail on the biggest concerns for FDs and CFOs at the helm of growing companies. We asked them to offer scores for their level of concern in four key areas.

  • Access to finance: 3.8
  • Staffing the finance function: 3.58
  • Growth in your market: 3.2
  • Finding the right employees: 2.88

Aside from the four key themes determined by Real Business at the start of the survey, we also provided an opportunity for FDs and CFOs to add their own bespoke problem.

On the subject of exporting, one finance leader said: “As an exporter, I foresee a difficult couple of years selling into Europe. I think exporters had the 2008-2011 period relatively easy given the weakness of sterling. I believe the strength of sterling will be a major bugbear for the next few years.”

Picking up on the rather pertinent issue of the BCC, another explained: “The BBC is my only client and they are a law unto themselves. Changing their finance paying system over the Christmas period without actually informing their supplier caused quite a few problems.”

Tax for smaller businesses was a big talking point during the latest Budget address by chancellor George Osborne, and was picked up in a number of responses from FDs in the survey. One in particular said: “High street stores need help, rates have gone up again and again. I’m tired that I pay 20 per cent corporation tax as a small company, while Amazon, Google and Starbucks pay one per cent. There needs to be a simple tax method – everyone pays sales tax!”

One FDs bugbear was plain and simple, railing against a particular large corporate which has come under serious pressure recently. “Tesco! Destroying local independents and community spirit,” they said.

The FDs’ Excellence Awards will be held on May 14 2015 and determine which business banks, accountancy firms, pension firms and recruiters are the best in the country. Also awarded will be Private Company FD of the Year for three different business size brackets, Young Finance Professional of the Year (under 30), Private Equity-Backed FD of the Year and Bank Manager of the Year. A full shortlist can be found by visiting our dedicated story.

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