Planning for the Restart: CFOs on Post-Covid Recovery

By Charmaine Niewerth // 9 March 2021

CFOs on planning for post-covid recovery

On March 2nd 2021, Founders Forum and McKinsey & Company brought together a small group of CFOs and VPs of Finance from start-ups, scale-ups and corporates to discuss “Planning for the Restart” – namely, how high-growth organisations are thinking about yet another uncertain year marked by uneven global recovery, vaccine rollouts and staggered public reopening.

Attendees came from organisations including Revolut, Farfetch, HealthHero, Tier Mobility, Meero, KRY, MUBI, Raisin,, Gaming Realms and OakNorth. We’d like to thank all attendees for their time and honest contribution. Insights from the session include:

Revitalised employees will be vital for recovery and expansion

  • Following a gruelling twelve months of intermittent lockdowns and long-running uncertainty, many colleagues are exhausted and unmotivated
  • To ensure organisations hit the ground running as the world reopens, CFOs commented on the importance of re-motivating and supporting their employees, and guaranteeing they are well rested to face the challenges of rapid expansion and new market launches in the coming months

When the underlying business model has product-market-fit, doubling down on the core is key to surviving a downturn

  • In line with McKinsey research following the 2008 crisis, CFOs from numerous sectors reported that doubling down on their tech-enabled business models served them well during the pandemic
  • Some CFOs explained the need for rapid micro-pivots, or the need to switch between client sectors or geographies, but all confirmed the focus on their core product through the pandemic was key to stability and is serving them well as the world reopens

Businesses able to pivot between multiple sectors have been well placed for the uneven nature of the COVID-19 crisis

  • The nature of the pandemic has meant that sectors have been hit unevenly, in direct contrast to the ubiquity of the 2008 financial crisis
  • Those B2B businesses that have been able to move rapidly between clients in different sectors have reaped the benefits of the crisis
  • By pivoting towards e-commerce, digital health, on-demand food delivery and SaaS clients, digital B2B businesses have been able to benefit from the past 12-months

Doubling down in markets with early signs of recovery will be key for performance in 2021

  • As countries reopen at different paces – likely led by the US, Israel and United Kingdoms, economic activity is likely to pick up in an uneven “K-Shaped” fashion
  • Multiple CFOs commented on their plans to double down on the markets opening up most quickly, with the need for agile planning, new market entry and business expansion key to their 2021 plans

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If you are a CFO and would be interested in joining a future discussion, please reach out to