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Towers Perrin: Financial Crisis Survey #2: "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over"

Source: Towers Perrin

Posted on 30 Nov 2009

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A new Towers Perrin survey conducted in October 2009, a year after the Lehman Brothers' collapse, finds that while the worst may be over, finance executives continue to worry about crucial financing and risk management issues, as well as their ability to carry out acquisitions and other strategic plans.

Analysis of the survey results suggests that:

* Cash is king — and that's not going to change in the near future.

* Despite lingering credit concerns, most executives are shifting their focus to longer-term issues such as strategy and risk management.

* Some major issues, such as pension plan volatility and operational risk, seem to defy an easy solution and are not being adequately addressed.

The survey sheds new light on the impact of the recession:

* 70% of respondents report lower revenues.

* 42% report that revenues plunged 10% or more.

And the findings also demonstrate a somewhat gloomy outlook among financial executives:

* Nearly half predict the recession will not end until the second half of 2010 or even 2011— companies with the sharpest drops in revenue taking the more pessimistic view.

* Credit conditions have eased more for some companies than for others.

* The great majority of companies are going to extraordinary lengths to conserve cash.

The change that stands out in a year-to-year comparison is that pension plan volatility has risen above financing concerns as the top issue for finance executives:

* 54% of respondents cited pension plan volatility as their top concern.

* 42% worried about their inability to carry out strategic plans.

* 41% were unsure of the effectiveness of their company’s risk management function, a concern that holds the same position in the top three as in 2008.

The consensus among executives seems to be that, while the worst of the financial crisis may be over, there is a lot of ground to cover before the economy can be considered "back to normal."

Towers Perrin gathered responses from 133 U.S. corporate finance executives polled from October 6–26, 2009.