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ARLINGTON, VA, April 16, 2020

Gartner Survey Shows 51% of CFOs Are Preparing for Up to 30% Decline in Revenue This Year Due to COVID-19

Latest CFO Survey Shows 70% of CFOs Are Making Changes to Long Term Investment Plans

A Gartner, Inc. survey of 145 CFOs and senior finance leaders on April 12, 2020* revealed 51% of respondents said they were preparing for a revenue contraction of up to 30% this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Twenty-eight percent of respondents believe the impact to their organization’s revenue could be higher than 30% (see Figure 1).

“Most CFOs have told us they are using the most severe downside scenarios to inform their decisions right now. This is leading CFOs to consider drastic cost management actions across April and May”, said Alexander Bant, practice vice president, research, for the Gartner Finance Practice. “When CFOs were asked how these downside scenarios are impacting their ability to fund long-term growth investments,  70% of CFOs said they are now showing caution in this area.” 

Figure 1: Most Extreme CFO Downside Revenue Forecasts for FY2020

While 15% of CFOs were planning to completely suspend all or most long-term investments, half (50%) said they were suspending them on a selective basis. An additional 30% said they had no plans to suspend most investments, and the remaining 5% said they are already replacing previous long-term investments with new investments.

“We know from studying companies that were successful during prior business cycle turns, that investing in growth bets ahead of curve is vital to come out on top,” said Mr. Bant. “Right now, we see CFOs clamping down on funding for these growth bets. The companies that emerge as leaders in their industry will quickly pivot and replace previous long-term growth investments with new ones. Currently though, only 5% of companies appear to be making these changes.”

For CFOs to guide the business through rethinking these investments, they need a solid theory of how their customer is changing. In normal conditions, the most effective CFOs spend between 5-10% of their time with customers. In crisis mode, Gartner recommends CFOs to spend more time on the front line listening to how their key customers are modeling out the recovery and what things will change.

CFOs also indicated in the poll that most expect little or no delay to closing their books at the end of Q1. Just 3% expected a delay of more than three days, 65% expected no delay, and 28% expected a delay of three days or less.

“These results show that the finance function is generally coping well with remote working and is able to carry out a lot of work as usual,” said Mr. Bant. “In fact, recent data from another Gartner poll showed CFOs warming to the idea of remote working as a cost management tactic.”

Gartner clients can read more in CFO Actions in Response to COVID-19 – Week of April 13.

Non clients can read more here and find a selection of coronavirus-related resources here.

*About Gartner CFO Cohorts
In response to urgent CFO demand, Gartner Finance is holding weekly CFO cohorts as a forum for CFOs to discuss emerging COVID-19-related areas of concern and what actions they are taking or not taking. The findings in this release are from a poll of CFOs and their direct reports leading up to the second cohort, hosted Monday, April 6, which included more than 192 CFOs and senior finance leaders.

About the Gartner Finance Practice
The Gartner Finance practice helps senior finance executives meet their top priorities. Gartner offers a unique breadth and depth of content to support clients’ individual success and deliver on key initiatives that cut across finance functions to drive business impact. Learn more at https://www.gartner.com/en/finance/finance-leaders.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities today and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

Our unmatched combination of expert-led, practitioner-sourced and data-driven research steers clients toward the right decisions on the issues that matter most. We are a trusted advisor and an objective resource for more than 15,000 enterprises in more than 100 countries — across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size.

To learn more about how we help decision makers fuel the future of business, visit gartner.com.

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