The optimism of Indian businesses is touching the pre-pandemic level, according to an annual survey of CFOs by consultancy firm Deloitte India and a separate weekly index of equity research firm Nomura.

With the economy gradually reopening, CFOs’ perception of uncertainty associated with the pandemic is reducing, says the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP’s (Deloitte India) annual CFO Survey 2021: A resilient India poised to thrive in the New Normal. The Nomura India Business Resumption Index also rose to a high of 114.5 for the week ended November 28, from 113.4 in the prior week, an indication that Indian businesses are picking up pace despite the Omicron uncertainty.

The Deloitte India survey, released on November 29, says a number of CFOs who participated in the survey are focusing on post-pandemic opportunities and challenges, and are willing to invest. Mergers & Acquisitions (M&As) emerged as a key growth driver for FY22, with 88% of CFOs looking to draft advanced strategies for expansion of assets.

“During the survey, we noticed great optimism among business leaders to recover and thrive by converting challenges into opportunities,” says Porus Doctor, CFO, Asia-Pacific, and programme leader and partner, Deloitte India.

About 70% respondents expect the economy to clock a 5−10% higher growth rate in FY22. Overall, the Deloitte India survey sees an upward trend in revenue and expenditure growth. About 77% CFOs expect an increase in revenue in FY22, while 61% foresee a rise in operation expenditure due to changes in business strategies, workforce expenses, and cost of debt.

According to the survey, in order to thrive in a competitive post-Covid world, CFOs have started resetting priorities. “Apart from revenue growth (20%) and margin improvement (18%), they are actively reassessing their priorities to create a conducive environment for growth. Amidst the need for agility and automation, enhanced customer experience, and protection against cyber and data security threats, digital and finance transformations (17%) were rated amongst the top priorities for an organisation.”

The weekly Nomura India Business Resumption Index, which picks up signals from high-frequency economic growth indicators, says Google workplace and retail and recreation mobility rose by 3.6 percentage points and 1.6 percentage points, respectively, while the Apple driving index eased marginally by 0.5 percentage points during the week ended November 28, compared with the previous week. According to the Nomura index, with domestic infection cases continuing to moderate, mobility is almost back to pre-pandemic levels, and that is boosting services. “Despite the uncertainty triggered by Omicron, high-frequency data suggest that the economy remains on a recovery path and inflationary pressures are building up,” according to the Nomura report.

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