Fifty finance leaders in the U.S. and Mexico are very concerned that the coronavirus pandemic may lead to a global economic downturn, according to a new survey by Big 4 firm PwC.
That No. 1 concern, cited by 80% of those surveyed March 9-11, is followed by worries about consumer confidence (48%), financial operations (48%) and workforce productivity (42%). The CFO Pulse Survey also revealed that every CFO or finance leader says their business is impacted by the coronavirus.
“We don’t think it’s a time for companies, or others, to hold onto original plans for 2020,” says U.S. Chair Tim Ryan during a media briefing, according to CFO.com. “It’s clear that the virus will change the plans of almost every company.”
Companies that are ready will feel fewer impacts, he adds. “Those that have been working very hard to control things like cost structure and liquidity will fare better, and those that weren’t will be more adversely affected.”
Most of the respondents predict the crisis will impact their revenues and profits, with 58% expecting a decrease and while 40% saying it’s too difficult to assess now. The leaders are considering financial actions as a result of the outbreak, with 62% planning cost containment measures, 44% adjusting guidance and 32% deferring or canceling planned investments.
Optimism was reflected in the survey as well, with 66% of respondents saying “business as usual” could return to normal in less than a month if the COVID-19 were to end today. Another 24% said it would take up to three months.
“The longer-lasting effects of the outbreak on consumer habits are difficult to predict, but some companies are already updating strategies in the face of temporary – and potentially permanent – changes in some markets or business models,” the survey report says.
PwC is conducting biweekly surveys of finance leaders in the U.S. and Mexico. The next set of results will be released on March 30.