Chief financial officers (CFOs) in the UK are facing higher levels of economic uncertainty than those in any other country in Europe, a new survey has found.
The research by accounting firm Deloitte also finds that UK CFOs are the least willing in Europe to hire more staff, increase capital spending or take greater risks onto their balance sheets.
Risk appetite levels are relatively stable among European CFOs overall, as are their perceptions of uncertainty, despite optimism around revenue growth being slightly lower than in August last year.
"Europe's recovery saw a slight loss of momentum in the first quarter, with CFO optimism and revenue expectations nudging lower," Deloitte chief UK economist, Ian Stewart, said.
"But outside the UK, businesses are upbeat about spending and hiring. Despite a first quarter wobble, it looks a bit too early to say we've reached the top of the economic cycle."
A total of 1,652 CFOs from 20 countries took part in the survey, finding that 34% think now is a good time to take risk onto their balance sheets, compared with just 14% in the UK.
Approximately half of European CFOs believe they are facing high levels of financial and economic uncertainty, which rises to 86% among UK respondents, and falls to just 9% for those in Denmark.
One-third of CFOs believe a new Eurozone crisis would have the greatest impact on the outlook for their companies.
However, this was rated as a low-probability event, with three-quarters of the respondents instead forecasting a rise in protectionism as likely, while half said a major cyber attack was probable.
A shortage of skilled labour was cited as one of the top three biggest risks facing respondents in 11 out of the 20 countries surveyed, up from the seven recorded in Autumn last year.
Deloitte senior partner, David Sproul, said that businesses must be prepared for a tightening of the labour market and "fierce competition" to attract and retain staff.
"Companies will need to focus on the pace of investment in artificial intelligence, robotics and automation - all job-saving technologies - as part of their plans for the coming 12 months," he added.