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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 21, 2020 1 year ago

CFO survey: sluggish economy could be here for a (long) while

Financial executives are taking the long view of the pandemic.

Some of the top financial executives at Florida’s largest companies aren’t winning any points for optimism in regard to the pandemic.

To wit: Nearly half the CFOs, 45.69%, who responded to a Florida Institute of CFO COVID-19 impact survey, say they don’t expect their business to return to pre-pandemic levels for 6 to 18 months. (The leader was 6 to 12 months, at 25.86%, while 19.83% of the respondents say it will be 12 to 18 months.)

Even more sobering? Nearly 10% of the respondents say business won’t get back to where it was in March for 18 to 24 months. That could be August 2022 — Florida will be on the cusp of a gubernatorial election then, and either President Biden or Trump will be halfway through his term.

The Florida Institute of CFOs queried about 350 top finance officers for companies in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and South Florida for its survey, conducted in early and mid-July. Companies represented in the survey have annual revenue ranging from $30 million to $30 billion, the survey says, and 60% of the companies have at least 500 employees.

Other results from the survey include:

• More than half the respondents, 52.21%, say Congress should approve another round of economic stimulus;  

• Nearly two-thirds, 61.21%, say work from home days will become a part of the staff’s workweek after COVID-19. Roughly one-fourth, 26.72%, say they aren’t sure while 12.07% say a flat no;

• More than two-thirds of survey respondents, 68.11%, anticipate shrinking their office space in the next five years by up to 50%. The majority of that pool, 32.76%, project shrinking their office footprint 15 to 30%. One-fourth of the respondents say their office footprint will remain the same, while 6.9% project office expansion.



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