Bosses who hold the company purse strings have seen their uncertainty about the economic outlook pushed to new highs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet a new survey of chief financial officers also found just more than half remain optimistic about the future.
The twice-yearly Deloitte CFO sentiment survey found uncertainty about economic conditions has reached a record-high 92 per cent, up from 72 per cent six months earlier.
More than three-quarters of respondents see some sort of revenue decrease in the second half of 2020 and nearly three in five expect revenues to be lower than their pre-pandemic expectations in 2021.
“A COVID-induced global economic downturn, the largest since the Great Depression, has hit hard, net optimism has fallen drastically, and uncertainty is at an all-time high,” Deloitte partner Stephen Gustafson said on Monday.
Still, 53 per cent remain optimistic about the future.
“While many see business conditions as worse than six months ago, they’re also not pulling down the shutters,” Mr Gustafson said.
“Encouragingly for Australia, CFOs appear to be up for the recovery fight. The challenges are clearly numerous and far-reaching but more than half are optimistic, or even highly optimistic, about the future.”
CFOs see navigating uncertainty, accelerated transformation and cutting costs out of operating margins as the main issues they need to deal with to make it through the crisis.
TOP FIVE CFO PRIORITIES
* Navigating uncertainty (58 per cent)
* Accelerated transformation (57 per cent)
* Cutting costs out of operating margins (53 per cent)
* Cyber risk (49 per cent)
* Culture and engagement (45 per cent)
(Source: Deloitte CFO Sentiment survey)