South: Four In 10 CFOs cite cashflow as biggest concern, say Robert Half

Cashflow remains a significant concern for a large number of UK CFOs, according to new research from recruitment specialist Robert Half UK. More than four in 10 (41%) CFOs in a UK-wide survey said cashflow was one of the biggest internal concerns they currently face in their role. This figure rises to 46% for small and private companies. 

On a regional basis, firms in the North and Scotland are the most concerned about cashflow, with nearly half (48%) saying they were concerned compared to those in London and the South East, where firms were the least concerned (37%). The North and Scotland also tops the regions for suffering from slow paying customers (71%) as well as from competitive pricing/low margins (54%).

When asked which three factors contributed to their concerns around cashflow, six in 10 (61%) CFOs cited slow paying customers as the main reason, a figure which has risen from just 26% in 2011. Following closely behind, more than four out of 10 (45%) blame customer/client insolvencies, competitive pricing/low margins (41%), higher business expenditures (40%), lower revenue (38%) and higher taxes (26%).

Interestingly, lower revenue is now less of an issue for companies compared to last year, decreasing to 38% in 2012 from 50% in 2011.

Phil Sheridan, Robert Half UK managing director, said: “Cashflow clearly remains a priority for finance leaders, particularly small and private companies which rely heavily on liquid capital to keep business running as usual. With half of all UK jobs coming from SME businesses, it is essential for these organisations to be supported to get the economy back on the right track.”

While fewer than one in four (23%) finance leaders are concerned over access to investment financing, CFOs offer their insights on the factors making it difficult for companies to secure credit and finance. At that top of this list is the business sector as nearly four in 10 (36%) say that operating in a perceived risky or depressed industry is the chief barrier to securing financing. This is followed by the perceived exposure to bad debt and risk (33%) and a poor credit rating (28%).