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Few chief financial officers plan layoffs, but are increasingly concerned about their businesses

Few chief financial officers plan layoffs, but are increasingly concerned about their businesses


People make face shields at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where local industrial firms have begun manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on March 26, 2020 in New York City.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | Getty Images

In a new survey, 87% of chief financial officers are concerned the coronavirus could have a significant impact on their businesses, up from just 54% two weeks earlier. 

The survey, conducted March 23 to March 25, is PwC’s second CFO survey on Covid-19. The first survey, done the week of March 9, showed that 90% of CFOs expected to be back to normal within three months, if the coronavirus ended, but that number has dropped to 76% in the latest survey.

Also in early March, 46% believed the virus was limited to specific regions or was an isolated challenge not impacting their business, but those who see the virus as a limited threat dropped to a total of 13% in the latest survey.  

A majority of the CFOs expect productivity losses in the next month as well as changes in staffing due to slower business, but only 16% see layoffs. 

The survey also found that 44% expected other means of staff reduction, including furloughs. About two-thirds of the 55 chief financial officers from the U.S. and Mexico have already taken steps to contain costs, and 64% say they are considering deferring or canceling planned investments.

The CFOs say global recession is their top concern, at 84%, followed by the financial impact of COVID-19, including on the effect on results of operations and liquidity and capital concerns.

The CFOs are from a cross section of industries. 



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