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A study of 1,000 UK financial directors conducted by Market Dynamics, part of the Ipsos Mori Group, and produced by the FT for The Royal Bank of Scotland, found that nearly two-thirds of the audience (63%) are optimistic about their companies’ financial prospects as they started 2006.

The report recognised the expanding global marketplace as a great business opportunity, and one that UK business appears to be seizing with both hands.

Among a sample of UK businesses that trade internationally, 46% felt that international trade had played an integral part in the success of their business – rising to 64% for larger companies. Innovation is also recognised as a key factor in gaining a competitive edge both in the domestic and international markets. Some 85% of surveyed businesses considered innovation was a key factor to success.

The rise of China as a key trade region was also considered a positive influence of international trade with more than one quarter of businesses recognising this. This is also supported by recent UK trade figures which highlighted exports to China in 2005 had increased by 19% on the previous 12 months to £2.8bn.

The results of the research, claims RBS, show that businesses are becoming more flexible in their attitudes and outlook – recognising that the business environment is changing and evolving but also that the responsibility of business success lies in their management and performance strategy.