Election, recession, and COVID-19 are top concerns for executives, Crowe survey finds

Election, recession, and COVID-19 - Top executive concerns

The Crowe business challenges survey reports executives’ top concerns ahead of the U.S. presidential election.

As the U.S. presidential election nears, 44% of business executives expressed unease about the potential impact of the result on their organization, according to new data from the Crowe Business Challenges Survey. While complete survey findings will be published in Part III of the report (released in early December 2020), surveys of executives from late June through early October show a significant increase in apprehension surrounding the election and the economic recession.

From late June to early October, executives reported having three major worries: 58% of business executives report COVID-19 as a major concern, while 52% cited the economic recession, and 44% cited the U.S. presidential election. However, by early October, executives started expressing more unease about the economic recession than COVID-19. The survey measures five overarching issues: the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession, the U.S. presidential election, civil unrest, and climate change/sustainability.

Unease about the U.S. presidential election continues to grow – 37% of executives noted high concern during phase 4 of the survey (concluding in mid-July), a number that jumped to 52% by phase 8 (concluding in early October).

See business leaders’ top concerns in Parts I and II of our business challenges survey.

An industry breakdown shows that from late June through early October an average of 55% of healthcare executives reported high levels of concern about the election. However, the pandemic continues to top the list of healthcare executives’ worries at 84%.

Healthcare executive concerns
If the Democrats win the presidency, their two big plays will be coverage, that is, access to care, fewer uninsured, and cost. If the Republicans win the presidency and the Democrats win the Senate, it will be gridlock in healthcare, with only marginal legislation – like price transparency – making it through. If it’s a Republican presidency and a Republican Senate, look for more private investments, such as digital health, ancillary providers, and big players making stronger plays under a market with fewer regulations.
Brian Sanderson
Managing Principal, Healthcare Services 
Crowe LLP

The same survey shows only 40% of financial sector executives expressing high concern about the election, in contrast to 55% expressing recession worries and 52% indicating apprehension about the pandemic.

Financial service executive concerns
Recessions generally create problems for a borrower’s ability to fully repay its loans. For banks, the financial impact of credit problems – especially when the credit problems become more extreme due to an event like a recession – generally is much greater than the impact from changes in regulations. In some ways, the recession and the pandemic are almost the same issue or have the same impact on a bank. Those who selected the pandemic as a greater concern probably are in locations more dramatically affected by it. Those who are more concerned about regulation changes related to the election might feel that the recession and pandemic are a concern, but because of their customer base, might experience less of an impact.
Mike Percy
Managing Partner, Financial Services  

About the Crowe business challenges survey

Crowe conducted a pulse survey of more than 420 executives in phases between late June and early October 2020 for the firm’s ongoing research series. The series compiles responses from leadership spanning industries such as the public sector, financial services, construction, healthcare, and manufacturing and distribution. 

Part I of the report analyzed the projected impact of COVID-19 on revenues, organizational strength versus the broader economy, top concerns and responses of leadership to the pandemic, and whether and how companies are using the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). 

Part II analyzed respondents’ evolving uncertainty and pessimism, the remote-work transition, and organizations’ top concerns and actions taken – including assessments on how their businesses and the government are navigating important social issues.

Get our latest report delivered right to you to see the results from Parts I and II. Plus, stay on top of today's challenges with survey data from hundreds of executives.

Sign up to get Part III of the report

Contact us

Nancy Leibig
Nancy Leibig
Managing Director, Marketing Strategy
Mike Percy - social
Michael Percy
Partner, Financial Services Consulting
Brian Sanderson - social
Brian B. Sanderson