European CFO Survey with Portugal insights Spring 2020

A perspective on COVID-19

About 1,000 CFOs in 18 countries participated, providing an overview of business sentiment and expectations for investments and hiring across Europe, each edition focuses on a topical issue. The Spring 2020 edition asked CFOs about the expected effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on revenues in the short and medium term, as well as the actions taken in reaction. Participating countries were Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Key Findings

  • This edition of the CFO Survey was conducted between the 3rd and 23th of March, being visible in the submitted answers the decrease of the CFO's expectations throughout the month regarding different indicators. This difference is particularly overwhelming when asked if they believe that the number of employees of their company is likely to change over the next 12 months. 31% of the inquired CFOs, in the first half of March, expect a decrease in the number of their employees. In the second half of the month, when analyzing the answers, we registered a significant growth compared to the first half (from 31% to 75%).
  • On average, 59% of CFOs in Portugal report in March 2020 that they are less optimistic about the financial prospects for their company (63% for Europe)
  • The net balance of CFOs in Portugal that believe they will increase their capital expenditure versus those who believe it will decrease dropped a significant 29 percentage points since the last CFO Survey.
  • Companies are prioritizing short-term reactive measures. Liquidity is obviously an essential element and two out of three CFOs in Portugal - as in Europe - report that they are cutting spending in response to the crisis. Some companies (14% in Portugal and 22% in Europe) are also deferring long-term investment commitments to free up immediate resources.
  • Reworking communication plans is the third focus area, prioritized by more than half of businesses in Portugal. This in an essential step in times of crisis to provide guidance and maintain stakeholders’ confidence. A lack of communication, but also incomplete or conflicting communication, can significantly slow the organization’s response.

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