Chief finance officers (CFOs) across the world are most concerned about a global economic downturn and the threat of a new wave of Covid-19 infections, according to a poll.
As Covid-19 restrictions continue to lift, the latest PwC survey of CFOs in 23 countries and territories reveals 60% fear an economic downturn, while 58% are concerned about new virus infections.
But CFOs are shifting their focus to bringing people back to a workplace that has fundamentally changed, with only 26% anticipating productivity losses due to the lack of remote working in the coming month, while 52% are planning to make this a permanent option for suitable roles.
“As a number of economies slowly start to reopen, it is becoming increasingly clear that businesses have a key role to play in learning to operate alongside a virus that remains a threat,” says PwC United Kingdom partner Melanie Butler. “Companies will need to implement the right measures to keep their employees safe and look at new ways of working to survive and thrive moving forward.
Three quarters of companies are planning new workplace safety measures while 72% are reconfiguring sites to promote distancing. CFOs report feeling very confident about their companies’ ability to provide a safe environment for customers at 79% and for employees at 74% respectively.
Although a new wave of infections is among their top concerns, 71% also report feeling very confident that they would be able to respond effectively. CFOs in Turkey with 92% and Cyprus with 89% are most likely to report being very confident about meeting customer safety expectations.
Finance leaders in the Caribbean, Turkey and Africa have the largest share of respondents who are very confident in their second-wave response and shutdown protocols - all territories reporting above 80%.
More than half - 52% - of CFOs say they will take steps to improve the remote work experience and to make remote work a permanent option.
Nearly two thirds - 63% - of CFOs see new or enhanced products or services as the most pressing area for rebuilding revenue streams.
But 53% expect a decrease in revenues of up to 25% as a result of the current crisis. Only 4% of CFOs say the impact of the crisis is still difficult to assess.
Cost containment is a favoured strategy among CFOs with 81% saying they will consider it in response to the crisis. Facilities and general capex top the list of erred to cancelled investment, while just 11% are considering similar action on digital transformation.