Mid-sized corporates prioritise agility and flexibility in post COVID-19 world

Photo by Erwin Soo

Standard Chartered’s mid-sized corporates pulse survey revealed that over 70% of medium enterprises in Asia today prioritise making their operations more agile and flexible to support business growth, compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

As markets emerge from lockdown restrictions and businesses begin on their road to recovery, the need to ensure resilience in their operating model ranked above the relevance of using technology as a differentiator from competitors (63%) and providing more value-added solutions to customers (61%).

Meanwhile, other elements deemed relevant to a company’s growth priorities included being more conscious of risks (53%), expanding company presence across different markets (45%), and improving social impact (30%).

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The survey, conducted with decision makers from more than 200 mid-sized corporates across mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and Singapore, also highlighted the vulnerability of these businesses due to COVID-19.

Over 60% of the respondents indicated a 20 to 50% reduction in monthly revenues, with more than half of them foreseeing that it will take at least six to 12 months to recover from the disruptive impact and stabilise operations again.

Jiten Arora, Global Head of Commercial Banking, Standard Chartered said: “Due to limitations around financing support as well as uncertainties about the end-consumer demand, mid-sized corporates are often more vulnerable to disruptions compared to their larger counterparts.”

“Despite these challenges, there is an opportunity for new profitable growth if these businesses can use their size to their advantage and be nimbler in innovating and transforming their ways of working to become more resilient,” he continued.

To support mid-sized corporates in their transition towards resilient growth in the post COVID-19 world, Standard Chartered is developing a series of six points-of-view articles that will offer insights anchored around a four-stage framework of immediate response, preservation and stability, preparing for growth and lastly, the goal of maintaining resilience and driving profitability.

These articles will focus on potential issues and challenges faced by mid-sized corporates as reflected from the survey, including regulatory, finance and working capital management, manufacturing and supply chain as well as driving efficiencies through digitalisation.

Jiten added: “In order for mid-sized corporates to weather this crisis, and more importantly prepare for the future ones to come, they need to first change their mindset to view building resilience as an investment that will deliver sustainable growth and profitability in the longer term, rather than a cost.”