PwC Survey Reveals CFO Concerns Related to Coronavirus

Posted by Yair Segev

If you’re looking for a broad view of how CFOs expect the coronavirus outbreak to impact their businesses, look no further. PwC surveyed 50 leaders from a variety of industries in the US and Mexico during the week of March 9, and created the COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey to reveal the findings. Although the respondents varied in their expectations for how the outbreak will impact their businesses, several findings were notable.

Check out the highlights so you can get a feel for how these CFOs are navigating amid the coronavirus emergency.

Majority Are Concerned

When asked what their company’s current concern level is related to the coronavirus, 54 percent of respondents said it has the potential for significant impact to business operations, “and is causing us great concern.”

Another 34 percent said they believe the coronavirus’ impact will be limited to specific regions, but that they are “monitoring closely,” while the remaining 12 percent believe COVID-19 to be an “isolated challenge” that won’t greatly impact business, but they are monitoring the situation to see if it changes.

Needless to say, the coronavirus situation is changing day by day, and those who were interviewed about it the week of March 9 may have changed their views by now. However, it’s interesting to see the spread of whether companies were expecting a significant impact or not.

Potential Recession the Biggest Concern

When asked about their top three concerns about COVID-19, the respondents cited a potential global recession as the biggest stressor, with 80 percent of those surveyed pointing to this as an issue. Following are the options that the CFOs were asked to rate among their biggest concerns, along with the percentage of respondents who cited these as potential problems:

  • Potential global recession: 80 percent
  • Decrease in consumer confidence, reducing consumption: 48 percent
  • Financial impact, including effects on results of operations, future periods, and liquidity/capital resources: 48%
  • Effects on workforce/reduction in productivity: 42 percent
  • Supply chain issues: 34 percent
  • Not having enough information to make good decisions: 14 percent
  • Lack of a comprehensive/tested company emergency preparedness plan: 6 percent
  • Difficulties with funding: 4 percent
  • Impacts on tax, trade or immigration: 2 percent
  • Financial disclosures, including effects on results of operations, future periods, and liquidity and capital resources: 0 percent

Most Companies Foresee Decreased Revenue/Profits

When asked about the impact they expect COVID-19 to have on revenue and/or profits this year, 58 percent of respondents said they expect to see a decrease, while 40 percent said they still aren’t able to assess what the impact might be. The remaining two percent don’t expect any impact, while no respondents foresee revenue or profits rising.

The Good News: Most Firms Expect to Bounce Back Quickly

We all expect the coronavirus situation to be temporary, although no one can predict when the business world will return to normal after the emergency phase passes. When asked how long they thought it would take their companies to return to business as usual “if COVID-19 were to end today,” 66 percent of respondents said it would take less than a month.

Another 24 percent said it would take between one and three months, eight percent expected it to take three to six months, and the remaining two percent foresaw a bounce-back period of six to 12 months.

“Companies may want to identify an executive with responsibility for assessing and measuring the longer-term impact to the core business and markets in which they operate, “ PwC said in the report.

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