More companies are now regrouping as they move beyond calendar Q1 and look to preserve cash flow and create newly revised plans for Q2 and beyond. With Q1 earnings season in full swing, public companies are also adding signals as to the impact of widespread shutdowns, while CFO’s are tentatively forecasting how the next few months and quarters might play out. And, the work-from-home situation seems like it might have some staying power, much to the delight of many CFO’s.
Here are a few expert opinions we’ve found helpful in the past week, and we hope you do, too. We’d love to hear from you, so please join our FP&A Slack Community and share your thoughts and suggestions. It is publicly available to everyone to discuss ideas related to the current crisis as seen from the FP&A perspective.
What the Experts are Saying on FP&A
Wall Street Journal: Financial Forecasting for Extreme Uncertainties
This unprecedented situation has rendered most forecasts and plans irrelevant. But CFO’s can’t just reforecast, they need to refine how they forecast by bringing in more collaborators, incorporating more data, and making the process highly iterative. “Faced with so many known unknowns as well as unknown unknowns, it’s imperative that CFO’s refine their forecasting capabilities to help their organizations prepare for future impacts and opportunities, including deciding when to accelerate recovery spending and investing.”
Watching cash flow and cutting costs is the name of the game. But there needs to be a strategy behind the cost cutting, rather than an indiscriminate approach, and any strategy must consider the fallout from even seemingly benign cuts. “By aligning cuts with your goals, rather than making across-the-board cuts, you’re better able to bring others in the organization along. ‘That helps you get buy-in, because, otherwise, you’re just pushing a target down on people.”
Two studies released last week, the PwC COVID-19 CFO Pulse and Gartner’s CFO survey, found that slightly more than half (52%) of CFO’s say their companies will be back to “business as usual” within three months. 42% of CFO’s are not incorporating the potential of a “second wave” outbreak of COVID-19 in their financial planning for 2020.
CFO Dive: Survey: 42% of CFOs lack contingency plans for a 2nd COVID-19 wave
More details on the Gartner study referenced above, specifically suggesting CFO’s should at least consider a second wave of COVID-19 as they plan for the remainder of 2020. But while many CFO’s aren’t planning for a second wave, it seems many expect it. “Despite the lack of contingency planning for a possible second wave, CFOs have become increasingly concerned about the risks associated with the pandemic broadly, citing ‘macro-pandemic concerns’ as their top concern at over twice the rate they did in early April.”
Deloitte / The Wall Street Journal: IR Strategies to Help Manage COVID-19 Uncertainty
Among the many business challenges exacerbated by COVID-19 is how best to talk to investors about near- and longer-term performance and strategy issues. Deloitte says, “the COVID-19 pandemic likely demands a new IR playbook that presents a company’s best-case, worst-case, and holding pattern.”
Many of us are living the work-from-home reality and finding that things do, in fact, still get done. In a survey of large companies, two-thirds of CFO’s said less than 10% of workers are at less than half capacity. But where cloud technology was instantly rolled out to fill the gaps, many organizations are seeing long-term benefits. “As many organizations discovered, technology isn’t just about providing the infrastructure for remote work. It is really about enabling the very future of work itself.”
Recent estimates in an MIT study say nearly half of the office-based U.S. workforce is currently working from home. This “massive experiment in telecommuting” is giving both employers and workers an opportunity to evaluate how they might want to work once the stay-at-home regulations are eased. FP&A teams should plan now for potential budget impacts, including what’s already been invested to keep workers productive from home. “‘Once businesses and individuals invest in the fixed costs of remote work,’ the MIT researchers wrote in their recent report, ‘they may decide to stay with the new methods.’”
Stay Tuned for More Useful FP&A Content
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