Recession is unavoidable, reckon Swiss finance bosses

An empty restaurant in Lucerne on March 20 Keystone

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the economic outlook for Switzerland within a very short period of time, with Swiss CFOs more pessimistic than ever before. 

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Neither during the euro crisis nor during the Swiss franc shock were chief financial officers as negative about economic prospects as they are today, according to the latest half-yearly survey published on Monday by consultants Deloitte.  

Deloitte’s 38th CFO survey was carried out online between March 2-30. It thus straddled the government’s imposition of sweeping measures on March 13. 

Despite the circumstances, 90 CFOs of listed and non-listed companies took part. 

(Source: Deloitte)

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Although the surveys have been indicating a cooling off for almost two years, there has now been a real crash in confidence: 97% of the CFOs surveyed after mid-March expect the economy to develop negatively over the next 12 months – and 41% of them even foresee a strongly negative dynamic.

In addition, two-thirds (67%) see a negative financial development for their company and only 15% see a positive one. Overall, 93% see their company’s future as less rosy than three months ago. 

More than three-quarters (78%) expect a decline in sales, while more than half (52%) expect the number of employees to decline within a year. 

Digitisation push expected 

However, the majority of Swiss CFOs are actively countering the crisis, the survey reported. For example, 91% of companies have taken measures to curb the weak growth; the most frequently cited measures were cost savings and revenue generation. 

The really successful companies were already looking at the post-crisis period, said Alessandro Miolo, responsible for the CFO study at Deloitte. 

“They are examining possible purchases or sales of parts of the company and implementing necessary internal changes in a targeted manner. I expect a major push in digitisation as a result of the [coronavirus] crisis,” says Miolo.



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