If the pandemic has demonstrated us anything, it is that company circumstance planning may need to account for situations that executives might have never even dreamed about. Although numerous might have prepared for a selection of systemic shocks, how numerous had as an possibility a worldwide pandemic shutting down workplaces, closing national borders, and throwing the economy right away into a deep decline? 

Going ahead, the most strategic CFOs must be eager to problem the assumptions being used in the forecast styles that drive circumstance arranging, both for the latest pandemic and for long run crises. They may need to assistance direct their firms in arranging for continued unsurety, with scenarios that rely on medical responses to the virus as very well as federal government responses to the economic effects.  

Jim Hsu

In recent EY study of CEOs, CFOs, and other top executivesadditional than a few-quarters of respondents suggestd that the pandemic would have an affect on their organizations’ mediumtolong-term approach. Although 37% of the study responders suggestd that they would need to make average changes, additional than 10% take noted that the pandemic could cause a fundamental adjust that will call for going to new sectors to thrive.   

CFOs will perform a vital purpose in determining how different eventualities will effects profits, the cost composition, the balance sheet, and liquidityThree vital places can form how firms put together for and respond to the unsure atmosphere in advance. 

1. Identify new knowledge inputs. 

It is difficult to forecast and prepare for different eventualities without having the correct knowledge. But standard metrics, these types of as profits and foot website traffic, are now less accessible or applicable for long run arranging. Businesses are just commencing to reopen (or shut down yet again) and some profits has been propped up by federal government stimulus programs that might not carry on. Other knowledge does not necessarily have the same implication as it did in a regular economyFor instance, minimal gasoline prices would ordinarily correlate with amplified restaurant website traffic, but that relationship is no lengthier linear. 

A person customer business we worked with reconsidered which data it wanted to augment its standard syndicated sales knowledge and other inputs to create a additional correct, well timed forecast. Among the the inputs it chose have been temperature knowledge, cell cellphone tower knowledge, social media mentions of its productsand ZIP codedegree unemployment knowledge. The finance workforce then performed a regression investigation to see which metrics would exhibit causation. The final result was additional correct forecasts that are now up-to-date in hrs, instead than weeks. 

Loren Garruto

The CFO can acquire the lead in determining which inputs are most applicable and predictive for the business, with the finance workforce undertaking a regression investigation to see which metrics show correlation and identify which represent actual causation. 

2. Product the knowledge to understand how the business may behave under various eventualities. 

As soon as the CFO has identified applicable data inputsthe inputs can be run as a result of various forecasting styles, like choice trees and Monte Carlo simulations, to determine how changes in the knowledge below various eventualities will have an affect on the business.

This process can incompany information from different functions throughout the business, but there might be a need for the CFO to be empowered to challenge the assumptions going into the styles.   

This adaptable, dynamic circumstanceplanning can not only target on the company’s personal business, but it can also pressuretest suppliers and shoppers to see how they will be impacted by, for instance, a reclosing of sure borders or a increase in COVID-19 conditions in vital production centers. 

It is crucial to make “black swan” situations into circumstance arranging, as we have observed that these situations might not be as rare as executives presume. In modern a long time, large fires on an complete continent, a pandemic, and geopolitical shocks all have affected business. Circumstance arranging not only identifies likely impacts on the P&L, balance sheetand liquidity, it also assistances companies recognize market opportunities.  

In 1 circumstance, we have observed how the pandemic forced a adjust in how some customer merchandise, these types of as beer, are packaged. Bar proprietors learned that kegs triggered also significantly stock danger, and some news media reports chronicled how shuttered bars got stuck with stale beer for the duration of the lockdowns. There has been additional of a target on one-serving containers considering that and even some anecdotal evidence of an aluminum can scarcity. That sort of shift could effects how firms commit in their solution mix in the long run, which, in transform, could have an affect on their complete source chain.

three. Act now to make it possible for for overall flexibility below various eventualities.

Correct circumstance planning can help firms gain better transparency into the challenges they confront in various scenarios. The CFO can then use the different eventualities to assistance tutorial choices about the company’s cost composition, doing work capital procedures, dividend plan, backup resources of liquidityand other in the vicinity of-term steps.  

Preparing for the real worst-circumstance eventualities can also assistance tutorial whether or not long-term financial investment requires to be built into a additional adaptable source chain, various production services in different geographies, or other steps. For instance, if a business forecasts that a vital provider might fail in Xof eventualities, the company could raise stock degrees though it uncovers more suppliersor could even acquire the vital provider. 

4. Use the crisis to create a playbook. 

One lasting project the CFO can direct is to use information and lessons discovered from the latest crisis to create a crisis playbook. This playbook might include precise steps to take in reaction to precise shocks to the business. These can be demand from customers shocks, source shocks, or both, and might effects precise geographies or the entire ecosystem. For instance, an X% drop in sales might result in a drawdown of money below a line of credit history, whereas a 2x decline in sales may further more result in the suspension of a dividend and the furlough of sure personnel. The crisis playbook can also plainly outline the crisis reaction workforce and its roles and duties, as preparedness is the vital to a speedy reaction.   

By enhancing forecasting and circumstancearranging now, and planning a prepare for the future crisis, CFOs can assistance make improvements to their company’resilience, position it to weather market disruptionsand take benefit of the opportunities that appear with any crisis. 

Jim Hsu is global EY-Parthenon Method leader and Loren Garruto is EY’s global and Americas corporate finance leader. The views mirrored in this article are those people of the authors and do not always replicate the views of Ernst & Younger LLP or other members of the worldwide EY business. 

contributor, COVID-19, E&Y, circumstance arranging, source chain disruption