21 July 2020

Post-COVID climate will be greener for Canadian business: HSBC survey

  • According to Navigator Resilience: Building Back Better more than four out of five Canadian businesses expect to rebuild on firmer environmental foundations as a result of COVID-19
  • Canadian businesses told us they felt less prepared to face the COVID-19 crisis than other markets, but are starting to feel more positive about the future
  • Close to four out of 10 (39%) Canadian businesses surveyed say they increased production to meet rising demand in recent months
  • Nearly three quarters expect some form of flexible work arrangement to become standard

The overwhelming majority (84%) of Canadian business leaders say that the need to review their operations due to COVID-19 will enable them to rebuild their business on firmer environmental foundations, according to an HSBC survey conducted at the height of the crisis and released today.

Navigator Resilience: Building Back Better, a survey of over 2,600 companies in 14 countries and territories, including 200 in Canada, showed that sustainability is more important than ever for more than two out of five (41%) Canadian businesses. Businesses with international operations (44%) were slightly more likely than those operating domestically (37%) to see the importance of increasing sustainability, likely driven by familiarity with global regulations and business preferences.

“The first half of 2020 has been challenging for all Canadian businesses, but it’s heartening to see that lessons learned and priorities revaluated during this period could act as an accelerator for corporate environmental sustainability efforts. These findings confirm what we’ve been hearing from our customers who are increasingly raising Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations and demand for products, as exemplified by our recent extension of Canada’s first Green Loan to Vancouver-based Concert Properties,” said Dan Leslie, Deputy Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC Bank Canada.

Preparedness and collaboration were keys to resilience

Eighty-five per cent of Canadian companies surveyed told us that they were at least somewhat prepared for the challenges of the past six months – below the global average of 92%. They identified four key attributes that led to their resilience: agility (56%), treating employees well (53%), valuing customers (53%) and a strong balance sheet (42%). Nine out of 10 businesses (91%) said they have improved their collaboration with other businesses – another key to resilience.

“Resilience goes beyond simple financial considerations. Businesses prioritized the ability to react quickly to external events, valuing customers and treating employees well higher than maintaining a strong balance sheet. At the end of the day, if you get those right, they contribute to that strong balance sheet,” added Leslie.

While Canadian businesses told us they felt less prepared than other markets, not all COVID-19 impacts were perceived as negative: this included considerations surrounding office and production locations (40% positive vs. 29% negative), changing customer demands (41% vs. 35%), and changes in products/services (34% vs. 30%).

While many businesses have been negatively affected by a challenging first half of 2020, close to four out of 10 (39%) Canadian businesses surveyed say they increased production to meet rising demand in recent months. In fact, more than three in five (65%) say they have been actively pursuing new prospects.

Diversifying supply chain partners continues to be a challenge for Canadian businesses

Canadian respondents told us that COVID-19 brought them closer to their customers (83%), supply chain partners (78%) and employees (76%). With markets worldwide entering lockdowns, unforeseen gaps in the supply chains of many Canadian businesses were quickly exposed, with new approaches needed to limit the potential for future disruption. While globally 29% of companies surveyed are diversifying their supply chain to work with more suppliers, only 22% of Canadian companies are doing so.

New ways of working: accelerators and barriers to success

There are significant barriers to remaining resilient over the next six months, according to Canadian businesses. Chief among these barriers are employee morale (36%), maintaining sufficient cash flow (28%), access to advanced technology (25%), and bringing employees up to speed on new ways of working (25%).

Seven in ten (70%) Canadian businesses identified some form of flexible working arrangement to become standard for their operations in the next two years, with more than half (56%) saying they expect to continue using virtual meetings after the pandemic. While these shifts in the way work is conducted come with numerous benefits, concerns about the impact on individual employee roles need to be addressed early to promote positive employee morale.

“Employee well-being continues to be a key preoccupation for Canadian business leaders. Since they’re telling us it’s part of the resilience mix, it needs to continue to be top of mind,” Leslie said.

Read more about the Canadian findings on our hub, Navigator Resilience: Building Back Better

Media enquiries to:

Pascal Dessureault at (416) 673-6997 or pascal.dessureault@hsbc.ca
Sharon Wilks at (416) 868-3878 or sharon_wilks@hsbc.ca

 

Note to editors:

Navigator Resilience: Building Back Better Report
The Navigator Resilience: Building Back Better report surveyed more than 2,600 companies in 14 markets and territories, including 200 businesses in Canada, online between April 28 and May 12, 2020. Global results in this report have been weighted to be representative of the universe of international trade volume taking into account the contribution of services & goods businesses according to WTO data for 2017-18.

HSBC Commercial Banking
For over 150 years we have been where the growth is, connecting customers to opportunities. Today, HSBC Commercial Banking serves around 1.4 million customers across 53 markets, ranging from small enterprises focused primarily on their home markets through to corporates operating across borders. Whether it is working capital, term loans, trade finance or payments and cash management solutions, we provide the tools and expertise that businesses need to thrive. As the cornerstone of the HSBC Group, we give businesses access to a geographic network covering more than 90% of global trade and capital flows. For more information visit: www.hsbc.com/who-we-are

HSBC Bank Canada
HSBC Bank Canada, a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc, is the leading international bank in the country. We help companies and individuals across Canada to do business and manage their finances internationally through three global business lines: Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, and Wealth and Personal Banking. HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 64 countries and territories in our geographical regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,918bn at 31 March 2020. HSBC is one of the world's largest banking and financial services organizations.