20 October, 2020: Deloitte has just launched its sixteenth annual Deloitte Middle East CFO survey report, highlighting the latest thinking and issues that are affecting CFOs and finance leaders. Since the last Deloitte Middle East CFO Survey in 2019, the world has been in the grasp of the COVID-19 pandemic with the full humanitarian, economic and political costs yet to be truly realized. In response, governments have implemented wide-ranging measures, including local lockdowns, international travel restrictions and the enforced closure of schools, public transport and businesses. Consequently, there has been a decline in economic activity.
“Regional CFOs have been very busy in recent months assisting their businesses to recover from significant reductions in revenue and cash flow. Though mostly cautious as to when the impact of COVID begins to recede, CFOs are nonetheless adapting their businesses through a combination of changes to remote working while actively seeking strategic opportunities to reposition, including the potential for Mergers and Acquisitions,” says Declan Hayes, Partner and CFO Program Leader, Deloitte Middle East.
Key findings in the report include:
• CFOs are navigating through an unexpected crisis, with 48% expecting a return to pre-crisis or near-normal levels of operations not to occur until Q2’21 or later. There remains pessimism and divergence around the recovery time horizon.
• 41% of CFOs remain focused on responding to the crisis and ensuring financial viability, while 36% are recovering via the adaptation of their business to maximize performance during this time. The remaining 23% of the respondents are focusing their time on evolving business models and strategizing for the post-COVID era.
• CFOs expect remote working in their organizations to remain at the current levels or increase, with 43% planning on investing and expanding remote working capabilities across the next twelve months.
• The exceptional risks posed by COVID-19 continue to linger and with recovery uncertain and precarious, improving cash flow and cost management are the highest priority items for CFOs and will be at the forefront of finance leaders’ agendas for the next twelve months.
“Our survey findings highlight some of the key actions taken by CFOs to proactively protect their businesses during the initial response period and how they are now preparing to thrive,” concluded Hayes.