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Finance Chiefs Move Beyond ‘Initial Shock’ of COVID-19, PwC Says

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Corporate finance chiefs are moving beyond the “initial shock” of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and dealing with issues they can control, PwC said in a report today.

“The initial shock of the virus and its effect on the business community is over,” Tim Ryan, PwC chair and senior partner said on a conference call.

Instead, he said, chief financial officers indicate “there is a real shift” to deal with issues such as employee safety, revenue and cost management

“CFOs are normalizing what it means to run a business in a COVID-19 world,” said Amity Millhiser, PwC chief clients officer.

PwC has been surveying chief financial officers every two weeks. The latest survey took place last week and the consulting firm contacted 288 finance chiefs. Of the group, 26 percent were from companies that made industrial products.

There is no vaccine for COVID-19 and medical treatment is limited. PwC said the reality of the coronavirus has sunk in among CFOs.

In the new survey, 58 percent of respondents said it would take at least three months for their operations to return to normal if COVID-19 ended today. This was the first time a majority of respondents answered that way.

Also, 73 percent of respondents expect to reconfigure worksites to put more space between employees. That’s up 8 percentage points from the previous survey. The coronavirus is highly contagious and health authorities have said social distancing is necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Manufacturers are expected to redeploy workers as they move to restart operations. Automakers are planning to resume production this month in North America after shutting down operations in March.

“Strong companies are focusing more on the medium-term than the short term,” Ryan said on the conference call. “They are now going to the medium term.”

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