PwC global survey: 73% of CFOs are greatly concerned about the effects of COVID-19 on their operations

23 Apr 2020

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of CFOs surveyed in all countries express great concern about the potential impact of the coronavirus on their business, with most (80%) expecting a decrease in revenue, according to PwC COVID-19 CFO Pulse, conducted among more than 800 CFOs in 21 countries.

When assessing potential financial actions to help mitigate the effects of the coronavirus, most CFO are considering cost containment measures. Thus 77% considering implementing cost reduction, 65% deferring or cancelling planned investments and 48% changing company financing plans.

„In this environment completely new and uncertain, there are needed tactical and complicated decisions. Many businesses spent the first several weeks of the crisis reviewing continuity plans, establishing crisis command centers, and ensuring the safety and security of their workers. Liquidity concerns are causing many companies to consider worker furloughs, costs and investments reductions. The main concern remains, in this context, the maintenance of jobs until the peak of the crisis is overcome and it will be possible to apply programs to relaunch the activity", said Ionuț Simion, Country Managing Partner of PwC Romania.

Nearly half (45%) of CFOs say their company plans to take advantage of government support programmes offered in response to COVID-19. The most common types of support they are considering are tax payment deferral and extension of tax deadlines.

In terms of workforce, CFOs in all countries expect a range of consequences for the employees: 42% of respondents expect to introduce furloughs in the coming month, and 28% anticipate layoffs.

If the COVID-19 crisis were to end immediately, 56% of CFOs expect a return to ‘business as usual’ within three months.

Other conclusions of the report

  • CFOs are most concerned about global recession (71%), along with the financial effects of the coronavirus on their company’s operations (70%), decrease in consumer confidence reducing consumption (39%), supply chain issues (31%) and effects on our workforce or reduction in productivity (30%).
  • Of those CFOs considering changes to their investment strategy, most (80%) plan to reduce general CapEx investments. Other potential reductions could come in operations (60%) and workforce (55%).
  • Relatively few CFOs indicate they will cut spending on digital transformation (21%) and cybersecurity or privacy (5%).
  • Only 9% view it as an isolated challenge not currently having a major impact on their business.
  • Relatively few CFOs named difficulties with funding (18%), insufficient information to make good decisions (15%) and cybersecurity (6% )among their top concerns related to the coronavirus.
  • CFOs in Germany, Denmark and Switzerland expressed relatively less concern about the pandemic’s potential impact on their business and are also more sure-footed about their organisation’s ability to bounce back. They also show less inclination to avail themselves of government support programmes.

The survey was conducted on 14 April  among 824 CFOs in Armenia, Brazil, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Middle East*, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and the US.

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Ionuț Simion, Country Managing Partner 

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Marketing and Communication Leader, Romania

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