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The Briefing

ACCA: Covid–19 – More than 90% predict negative growth, doubts expressed over government’s economic aid

by Aiken PR


Irish organisations large and small, in the public and private sectors, have expressed deep concerns about the impact of Covid–19 on people, productivity and cashflow.

Research from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) saw the professional body survey close to 500 accountancy practitioners in Ireland and 10,000 globally.

Results showed more than half of firms have performed financial reforecasts since the Covid–19 outbreak, and that 90% are now expecting negative growth in 2020.

The virus’ impact saw 58% of firms reveal employee productivity has been negatively affected, 28% said they were deferring new product launches and 27% reported cash flow problems.

Concerns were also raised over the effectiveness of the government’s economic stimulus – 45% were unsure of its impact, and only 15% believe it has been effective. 

Caitriona Allis, head of ACCA Ireland, revealed the survey’s aim was to explore difficulties faced by organisations of all sizes across the country.

She said: ‘This research aims to understand the business and financial blows to organisations across the country. It is seen through the lens of ACCA Ireland’s members – finance professionals supporting a wide range of businesses and organisations at this hugely difficult time.

Caitriona Allis, ACCA Ireland


‘The findings gauge the short to medium term implications, while also looking at the measures being undertaken and considered by organisations to mitigate the damage. It also looks at what lessons we can all learn from the pandemic.’

Positive findings from the survey showed 60% of firms had business continuity plans in place to help them effectively respond to and mitigate the risks of the Covid–19 pandemic.

Allis highlighted crucial advice for firms to follow in these unprecedented times, adding: ‘We are recommending that organisations follow the ‘three As’ of crisis planning – Act to respond in a sustainable manner and focus on employees and stakeholders; Analyse the different information sources to secure your organisation; and Anticipate the business impact and future trends.’

Jamie Lyon, the report author, revealed Irish findings replicate the global picture and highlighted the importance of business continuity planning.

He said: ‘Everyone is hurting, but particularly the smaller organisations. Financing and cash flow are concerns to everyone. For many of us, the ‘face of work’ has changed overnight. In the short term, leaders are facing a very difficult operating environment when it comes to employee productivity and engagement, alongside a number of compounding and wide–ranging challenges – stifled and stalled customer demand, supply chain disruption, people mobility issues, product and service delays or deferments, investment challenges and so on.

‘All this is of course translating to the financials being affected because fundamentally all of these blows are interconnected. But what’s heartening to see is many organisations’ commitment to ensuring the health and wellbeing of employees, customers and other stakeholders first and foremost.’

Global survey findings show:

  • 57% – Employee productivity negatively affected
  • 37% – Cash flow problems
  • 29% – Stopped / reduced purchase – customers impacted by the virus
  • 24% – Having to defer launch of new products and services
  • 24% – Stopped / reduced purchases – supply chain disrupted
  • And only 53% of organisations have yet been able to do a financial reforecast, perhaps due to the fast–evolving scale and duration of the Covid – 19 pandemic alongside the extent of necessary social distancing controls put in place by governments, which have created vast uncertainties for businesses.


Jamie Lyon concludes: ‘Overall the data confirms Covid–19 is a huge challenge across all sectors and sizes of business, and regions and countries. The main issue is uncertainty, which affects the ability of organisations to plan properly, to react and to forecast appropriately. While talking of silver linings may be very hard at this time, we need to think about every opportunity, and to consider every option available to keep businesses large and small afloat.’

  • ACCA Ireland is holding a webinar on the 23 April 2020 to discuss these findings, which will be published in full on the 27 April 2020:
  • The survey supporting this research closed on Thursday 26 March 2020.
  • Please refer to ACCA’s Covid–19 Hub, which includes useful resources to help organisations deal with the impacts and implications, including advice for ACCA members in practice and in business, students, and a section on wellbeing.