Deloitte APAC CFO Survey 2023: Indian CFOs Lead Economic Optimism Amid Global Challenges
In a groundbreaking revelation, the Deloitte Asia Pacific (APAC) CFO Survey 2023 unveils that a staggering 94 percent of Indian Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are optimistic about the nation’s economic future, showcasing the highest confidence across the APAC region. The report, titled “The next set of imperatives for CFOs in the Asia-Pacific region,” not only sheds light on the sentiments of 276 leading CFOs but also offers a comprehensive view of the imperatives facing businesses in the near-term landscape.
This unparalleled optimism among Indian CFOs stands out against the backdrop of economic fluctuations, slowing growth, surging inflation, and elevated interest rates. The report underscores the resilience and strategic acumen demonstrated by Indian financial leaders during global economic uncertainties. Furthermore, the survey reveals a distinct sense of positivity among Indian CFOs regarding their companies’ financial prospects, with 85 percent expressing some degree of optimism.
The survey delves into the external and internal risks perceived by Indian CFOs. Global economic slowdown or recession (59 percent), geopolitical issues (53 percent), and digital and technology disruption (27 percent) top the list of external concerns. Internally, securing and retaining talent (59 percent) takes precedence, followed by disruption in products or markets (41 percent) and technology implementation/digital disruption (35 percent).
Notably, Indian CFOs are leading the charge in addressing these risks through technology automation, with 78 percent prioritizing this approach. This sets them apart from counterparts in Australia, China, and Japan, who focus on managing costs, improving operational procedures, and monitoring portfolios and investment decisions, respectively.
Porus Doctor, Asia Pacific CFO Program Leader and Partner at Deloitte India, emphasizes the pioneering role played by Indian CFOs in embracing technology for the transformation of the finance domain. He notes that Indian CFOs are at the forefront, demonstrating a proactive willingness to navigate the evolving digital landscape.
Nandita Pai, Partner and CFO Program Leader at Deloitte India, notes that the landscape of the Indian CFO is undergoing a transformative shift. CFOs are now seen not only as custodians of financial prudence but as pivotal architects of comprehensive business strategy. The survey results highlight India’s leading position in expectations from CFOs to steer organizational transformation.
The changing role of CFOs is a central theme in the Deloitte survey, with 86 percent of Indian CFOs feeling that their responsibilities have broadened in the past two years. A significant 84 percent acknowledge the expectation to lead transformative initiatives within their organizations.
Looking ahead, the survey outlines key business priorities across the Asia-Pacific region. Revenue growth (62 percent), cost control (56 percent), and productivity improvement (37 percent) top the list. For Indian CFOs, revenue growth (73 percent), cost control (47 percent), and productivity improvement (37 percent) are the primary focus areas for the next year.
In light of the imperative of climate change, the survey reflects the urgency among Indian CFOs to address sustainability challenges. Approximately 61 percent agree that climate and sustainability regulations will impact their financial reporting. The preparedness to tackle ESG challenges is evident, with 22 percent of Indian CFOs indicating readiness.
The survey concludes by highlighting proactive sustainability initiatives undertaken by Indian CFOs, including adopting public policy positions that promote sustainability and actions to address climate change (65 percent), encouraging or requiring suppliers and business partners to meet specific environmental sustainability criteria (53 percent), and using more sustainable materials (55 percent).
In summary, the Deloitte APAC CFO Survey 2023 positions Indian CFOs as leaders in economic optimism and strategic resilience, setting a benchmark for their regional counterparts amid a dynamic and challenging global landscape.