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UK FDs: We control our destiny

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Watch too many reports on BBC Newsnight, and you’ll start believing that all British businesspeople are terminally depressed. The reality, as shown today on FDs Raise Their Voice day, is rather different. 

Based on 794 responses to this year’s Satisfaction Survey (which determines the results of the annual FDs’ Excellence Awards, in association with ICAEW), UK finance directors still believe that their businesses’ destiny is in their own hands. 

Here, recording their opinions between the end of 2011 and February 2012, is what they say:

  • When asked whether they’ve become more or less optimistic about the prospects for their own business over the past year, 47.9 per cent said more. (39 per cent said neutral; 13 per cent said less.). This is, as you might expect, a measured reaction to what is undoubtedly a tough commercial climate, especially in the eurozone, where most export-minded UK companies ply their trade. It is not, however, evidence of confidence spiralling down the toilet.
  • Where this serious group of business leaders have concerns is in the prospects for the wider UK and world economy. They’re not daft; they can see the data. On the UK economy, 49.8 per cent have become less confident over the past year. Even more – 56 per cent – believe the prospects for the world economy to have turned for the worse. However, and I will repeat my previous point, these people have enough faith in their own abilities to believe that their own business’s prospects can improve – presumably through hard work, tenacity and innovation. If you believe you can outperform the market in your sector, you’re not alone.

How does our Satisfaction Survey work? Each year, in the build-up to Real Business’s FDs’ Excellence Awards (held in association with ICAEW), we invite finance and managing directors to give their views on the service provided by their banks, auditors, financial software providers and assorted advisers. This year, we also asked them a few other questions about business confidence, accounting standards (ooooh!) and some other stuff

Of the first 794 responses analysed, 71 per cent come from companies in the £5m to £250m-turnover range. More than 30 per cent are family-owned. Almost 30 per cent are in manufacturing and construction. More than three-quarters are MDs or FDs, and 85 per cent are 40-plus. Suits, we’ve got plenty. This is the voice of heartland British business. 

You’ve still got time to fill in the Satisfaction Survey and to make a nomination for the prestigious FDs’ Awards. There are three self-nominated categories: FD of the Future (for high-potential stars of the finance team); Young FD of the Year; and Private Company FD of the Year.

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Chris Chapman
UK energy business bags £65m start-up funding!
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