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Financial Executives Express Concern About COVID-19 in PwC Survey

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Top financial executives participating in a survey by consulting firm PwC expressed concerns about the impact, including a recession, from the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Of those surveyed, 80 percent said a possible global recession is among their top three worries stemming from the coronavirus. All said their companies are having at least some impact.

More than half of respondents, 54 percent, said COVID-19 has the potential for a “significant’ effect on business operations, according to PwC. Also, 58 percent said they expect a reduction in revenue and profit because of the outbreak.

“Uncertainty, especially regarding both the length and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, is a predominant concern for chief financial officers,” Tim Ryan, PwC US chair and senior partner, said in a statement.

The outbreak started in China and has spread over the globe. Countries including Italy and Spain have gone on lockdown. States and cities in the U.S. have stepped up their responses to the coronavirus.

The consulting company surveyed 50 financial executives in the U.S. and Mexico March 9 through March 11. The executives worked in a variety of industries. PwC said it plans to conduct such surveys on a regular basis to track executive sentiment about the coronavirus.

Despite the concern, the surveyed executives said their companies are capable of rebounding depending on the length of the outbreak.

Of respondents, 66 percent said their companies could return to normal in less than a month if the coronavirus ended now. Another 24 percent said their businesses could go back to normal in one to three months, PwC said.

What’s more, only 30 percent of respondents said they are considering supply chain changes due to the coronavirus.

“Most finance leaders surveyed seem to be optimistic about a resolution to the spread of the coronavirus and as a result are focused on near-term versus long-term solutions to managing costs,” Amity Millhiser, PwC US vice chair and chief clients officer, said in the statement.

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