Deloitte's latest quarterly survey of Fortune 500 chief financial officers found the executives have a gloomier outlook on the economy than last quarter, with respondents citing inflation, geopolitical risks and the regulatory environment as their top external concerns.
In the first quarter survey of 97 CFOs, only 36% told Deloitte they see economic conditions improving in the North American region over the next year, down from 45% in the previous quarter.
Participants were also less optimistic about their own companies' prosperity looking out over the next 12 months, with a mere 38% saying that they felt their firms would be better off a year from now. That's down from 49% from the fourth-quarter survey.
The biggest worry CFOs expressed to the consulting firm was rising inflation including material and wage costs. In the poll that concluded the day after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the second most-mentioned fear was political unrest. Respondents not only cited the ongoing conflict in the region, but some pointed to the potential for escalating tensions with China.
The third theme of external threats keeping CFOs up at night involves potential government actions, including fiscal policy, regulations and taxation. Additional external risks that emerged included supply chain woes, fears of a potential economic downturn and rising interest rates.
Deloitte found that the greatest internal risks cited by CFOs involved talent, with recruiting, employee burnout and retention cited as major concerns.