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After conducting two 2020 CFO surveys of large and mid-size companies, one before the COVID-19 pandemic and one during, TD Bank has surprisingly discovered that 61% of respondents say the pandemic had a positive impact on operations, while some even stating an uptick in revenue.
As can be expected with a global pandemic, the results of the survey, which drew from 569 executive decision makers before the pandemic and then 353 executives during, was mixed.
More than 50% of respondents said that they are expecting their revenue to go down, with half of these respondents expecting that revenue decrease to be between 11% to 20%.
But the analysis revealed that COVID-19 also accelerated the pace of large and mid-size companies achieving 2020 business priorities.
Unsurprising was that technology has become pivotal in keeping operations afloat, and 1 in 2 respondents acknowledged this as their most significant business goal for the remainder of 2020.
And for those that were already prepared, they saw gains.
Businesses, which had a disaster plan already in place before the pandemic hit, were better prepared for the impact. Two-thirds of those respondents who had a disaster plan said that they had seen their revenue increase.
COVID-19 Revenue and Priorities Impact
When delving further into the survey results, 18% of respondents said that revenue following the start of COVID-19 would be between 1% and 10% higher, while another 22% said it would be between 11% and 20% higher than previously anticipated.
But another 52% of respondents stated they believed revenue would be between 1% to 20% lower because of the pandemic.
When it came to priorities in 2020, it is no surprise that 48% of respondents said it was to invest in technology and innovation with many now shopping online and virtually to combat the spread of the pandemic.
Cost reduction was also a top priority for 41% of respondents while expansion to new markets was third with 33% and raising capital next at 28%. Paying off debt was not far behind with more than a quarter citing that as a top priority.
Looking to 2021
Optimism continued, as the survey turned to outlook on the coming year.
As many as 41% expect a strong and quick rebound to the US economy, while another 26% expect a positive rebound, but one that will take more time. Just 2% of respondents expect the economy to be even more challenging in 2021 than it was during a turbulent 2020.
Another positive from the survey is that 54% of businesses are looking to grow their staff in 2021. Only 5% stated they were looking to reduce staff, while more than 40% said they plan to keep the same amount of employees this year as last.
When it comes to activities planned for 2021, 32% said they will launch a major new product or service or expand into new vertical (specialty) markets, 31% will undertake a major technology overhaul and 27% will leverage new technology such as AI and blockchain. It is perhaps not surprising that 9 in 10 respondents cited they will have financing needs in the next 12 months.