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What if you could ask Ontario’s senior business leaders what they’ve learned from Covid-19? Their insights would be an invaluable resource to help you prepare for future disruption.

That was the inspiration behind Five Lessons from the Pandemic that will Shape Ontario’s Economy, which resulted from a roundtable discussion held in late-July 2020 between Carol Wilding, CEO of CPA Ontario, and a select group of Ontario CFOs. The goal was to gain insight into the arsenal of skills and resources that have helped these financial leaders and their organizations navigate this global crisis, so that we might all learn from their experiences and apply their strategic insights going forward.

This paper represents the distillation of the learnings collected during the roundtable discussion. It includes real examples from these leaders’ business decisions, and key takeaways from the top priorities faced by finance leaders grappling with the effects of the pandemic. It dives into five focus areas for CFOs during the crisis, including:

    THE EFFECT ON BUSINESS

    The travel, retail and hospitality industries have been badly affected by the pandemic. However, some industries are thriving. The pandemic is revealing business opportunities for those who can pivot to meet them.

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    BALANCING SHORT-AND LONG-TERM PRIORITIES

    Regardless of the impact COVID-19 has on business, investment decisions need to reflect an organization’s shifting priorities. To succeed during and after a pandemic, businesses will have to simultaneously cut costs and invest in growth, among other things.

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    ESG CONSIDERATIONS HAVE CHANGED

    The pandemic has shifted Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) considerations to highlight the importance of social awareness in business. Specifically, there is a renewed emphasis on the importance of disclosure, with investors placing an increased value on ESG performance reports.

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    WHAT DO INVESTORS WANT TO KNOW?

    As CPAs prepare financial statements and corporate reports in coming quarters amid ongoing uncertainty, investors are thinking about the effects of the pandemic on balance sheets in the long term. Analysts and investors want information about the province’s economic outlook, so it will be crucial for organizations to enhance their reporting and communication to stakeholders.

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    LESSONS HAVE TO BE LEARNT WHILST RUNNING THE GAUNTLET

    As CFOs continue to respond to the pandemic, communication with stakeholders must remain a top priority. But, as the stresses of the pandemic continue to impact society, how much should self-care be factored into an organization’s response plan?

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    There is no question that the pandemic and resulting business restrictions have impacted the economy and the way we conduct business. It’s also changed the way business leaders make decisions and plan for the future. The good news is that it hasn’t all been bad – there have been successes amid the challenges. This paper shares these learnings so that our profession will be better prepared to navigate unexpected challenges in the future.

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