Every business across the world has been touched in some way by the coronavirus emergency, and chief financial officers are certainly feeling the heat that's come from this uncertain period. Nowhere is that more obvious than in PwC's most recent survey of CFOs.
Although these professionals expressed cautious optimism just a few weeks ago, that has changed quite a bit in recent weeks. During the week of March 23, PwC polled 55 finance leaders across the US and Mexico to get a feel for their sentiments regarding the current and future business landscape through the lens of COVID-19.
Worries and Fears Grow
Because PwC asked the same questions during the week of March 11 as they did last week, the firm was able to see the differences between how CFOs felt then and now -- and the findings show great concern.
Whereas 54 percent of CFOs said they believed coronavirus would have the "potential for significant impact to our business operations, and it is causing us great concern" in early March, that number rose to 87 percent this week.
And while about 34 percent of the finance leaders who expected the COVID-19 impact to be "limited to specific regions in our business" back in early March, that number fell to just nine percent last week.
As for how the coronavirus will affect profits, those concerns have worsened as well, the report shows. "Eighty percent of finance leaders now say they expect a decrease in revenue or profit for the full year," PwC notes. "Two weeks ago, only 58 percent anticipated decreased revenue and/or profits in 2020, and 40 percent said it was difficult to assess."
Recession Remains Biggest Concern
As was the case earlier this month, the biggest concern among CFOs is a possible recession. Following are the strongest concerns cited by finance leaders in last week's survey:
- Potential global recession: 84 percent
- Financial impact, including effects on results of operations, future periods, and liquidity/capital resources: 64 percent
- Decrease in consumer confidence, reducing consumption: 45 percent
- Supply chain issues: 31 percent
- Effects on workforce/reduction in productivity: 29 percent
- Difficulties with funding: 15 percent
- Not having enough information to make good decisions: 9 percent
- Impacts on tax, trade or immigration: 4 percent
- Lack of a comprehensive/tested company emergency preparedness plan: 4 percent
About 60 percent of finance leaders surveyed said that productivity was low "due to a lack of remote work capabilities." This makes it imperative that businesses have a way to ensure all staff members are able to work remotely. Check out our Remote Work Engagement Checklist for tips on how to best prepare your team for remote work.