“Sheer uncertainty” fuelling fear amongst finance leaders

Survey shows second national lockdown and no-deal Brexit are finance directors’ biggest concerns for the year ahead

The “sheer uncertainty” surrounding Brexit negotiations, a second national lockdown, and the economic fallout from the pandemic are among the biggest concerns for the overwhelming majority of finance leaders, according to a Financial Director survey.

21 percent of respondents said no-deal Brexit was their biggest concern. 34 percent were most worried about a second lockdown and 36 percent cited cashflow worries. Nick Ludlow, regional vice president at Chrome River Technologies says the results are being driven by the fear of uncertainty.

“The looming threats of the likely no-deal Brexit and the imminent second nationwide lockdown are still on the minds of so many. The uncertainty that both of these events pose in terms of the length and severity of their impact are causing concern across the spectrum.

“The biggest individual concern that finance leaders have – cashflow worries – is also very likely to be related to the fear that coronavirus and Brexit could have a very negative impact on the entire economy in 2021 and beyond,” Ludlow says.

The survey was conducted during September to October, in association with Chrome River.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that from Thursday, November 5, England will go into a second national lockdown until at least December 2. Johnson finally bowed to pressure from the health officials advising the government, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), after they told him on October 8 that the number of infections and hospital admissions “exceed the Reasonable Worst Case Scenario (RWCS) planning levels”, minutes show.

Meanwhile, Britain is troubled by the uncertainty of Brexit with a trade deal not yet approved, despite there being just eight weeks left before the UK’s transition period ends on December 31, 2020.

But while these global events are largely out of finance leaders’ control, Ludlow believes it’s important to focus on what is within the finance department’s grasp.

“All this has taught us that if you don’t have the technology, or you’re using technology with a company that can’t move as quickly, you’re going to be in trouble. Make sure the system is agile enough to be able to change.

“The fear is of the unknown. I still think there’s a large percentage of companies who don’t really know what’s coming with Brexit, for example. They still don’t know, from a business point of view, how it’s going to affect them. So again, pick the right supplier and pick the right system to be able to adapt,” Ludlow adds.