An almost unanimous 96% of Irish CFOs reported that the potential impact of COVID-19 is causing great concern regarding a significant impact on business operations, significantly higher than other global CFOs (73%).
This is according to the latest PwC CFO Pulse survey conducted last week. This survey, which is a fortnightly poll of 824 global financial leaders including Ireland, helps to identify the business and economic impact of COVID-19.
The research shows that Irish business leaders are taking clear action to cut costs, with cost containment (78%) and deferral or cancellation of planned investments (61%) high on the agenda. More layoffs cannot be ruled out (26%) and over a third of businesses (35%) still plan on availing of the Government
In line with global counterparts, the top concern with respect to COVID-19 for Irish CFOs is the financial impacts on their organisation’s operations, liquidity and capital resources (70%). Two-thirds (65%) are concerned about the possibility of a global recession, though these fears are less amongst international peers. Surprisingly, just 4% of Irish respondents are concerned about cybersecurity risks, in spite of increasing threats of cyber attacks during this time.
The survey reveals that six out of ten (61%) Irish respondents expect productivity losses due to lack of remote working capabilities in the month ahead, significantly more than international peers (45%).
Almost four out of ten (39%) expect temporary furloughs (or leave of absence) due to reduced demand (Global: 38%). A quarter (26%) expect layoffs (Global: 28%) which is likely to increase the already high number of layoffs here with unemployment levels already having jumped to a record 16.5% at the end of March.
Commenting on the research, Consulting Partner at PwC Ireland, Garrett Cronin said, "Similar to what’s being seen globally, Irish companies are cutting costs and putting planned investments in technology, workforce and capital expenditures on hold while they try to weather an unprecedented economic storm. Before this pandemic hit, many businesses were focused on long-term growth. Now companies are being forced to protect their bottom line."
He added, "However, businesses are also looking to the long term, including, with the help of Government supports, protecting the livelihoods of their people for as long as is possible."