Most CFA Institute Members Predict K-Shaped Recovery from COVID-19 Pandemic in New Survey

The plurality of CFA Charterholders predict a divergent economic recovery, marking a distinct shift in opinion from one year ago.

New York City, United States 01 Jun 2021

CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, surveyed its membership to analyze the effects of the current economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic on the financial markets and the investment management industry. The survey finds that 44% of respondents globally are predicting a “K-shaped” recovery and are concerned about the real risk of the recovery taking different forms and degrees of momentum in various parts of the world, varying across industries and workforces.

The survey and forthcoming report, COVID-19, One Year Later – Capital Markets Entering Uncharted Waters, follows the analysis of member sentiment reported in 2020. The K-shaped recovery marks a distinct shift away from the “hockey-stick shaped” recovery predicted last year, when close to 75% of respondents thought that any upturn would be slow or stagnant in the short term, before picking up in the medium term.

“Our members around the globe continue to provide unique insights into the impact of the pandemic on capital markets and the finance industry at large,” said Margaret Franklin, CFA, President and CEO of CFA Institute. “Their views provide an invaluable bellwether of trends and future-state indicators at the global, regional and market level. In a post-pandemic world – one that is only starting to emerge – the views of CFA charterholders provide meaningful and actionable insights on current market, regulatory and economic developments, rooted in professionalism and high standards for capital markets integrity.”

Of the 6,040 global respondents, 44% predicted a K-shape recovery, indicating a globally divergent recovery. Then, 32% of the respondents opine that the economy is on a steady path towards fully recovering and operating at a pre-pandemic pace within the next one to three years. China’s recovery is considered to be ahead of most markets; respondents in that country report more optimism for a full recovery in one to three years (39%).

Approximately 10% of respondents said a W-shaped economic recovery is forming, whereby the economy will see-saw after an initial strong rebound. Another 5% predicted the economy will worsen over the next one to three years, before progressively recovering. About the same percentage (4%) believe there will not be a real recovery and that long-term economic stagnation will ensue. Last, 4% were not certain of the recovery’s progress.[1]

Elsewhere, further analysis suggests that specific regions appear to be less optimistic than others. In particular, Europe is among those that are marginally less optimistic to believe that the economy is already on a steady path to full recovery. Switzerland is an exception in Europe, with 37% of respondents indicating that the economy is steadily improving. Only 27% of the remaining European respondents chose that option compared with 34% in North America (36% in the United States) and 36% in South Asia.

In general, emerging economies appear to be less optimistic about the economic recovery. Only 23%, 25%, and 27% of respondents in Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East, and Africa, respectively, believe their economy is already on a steady path to recovery. They also believe in higher proportion that a real economic recovery will not occur and that long-term stagnation will ensue.

The full membership survey and report (to be released at a later date) will explore the following themes:

  • The economic situation and the potential recovery;
  • The market impact on equity markets;
  • The sentiment of volatility and inflation expectation in local markets;
  • The main structural consequences on the economy and financial markets;
  • How economic relief programs will be paid for;
  • The risk of corporate credit default in local markets;
  • Should central banks prioritize an exit strategy following an accommodative monetary policy drive, what form should that takes, and what have been the consequences?
  • How monetary policy reversal might affect different asset classes;
  • Should monetary and fiscal policies be coordinated?
  • The regulatory response and the key risks regulators should focus on next;
  • What should financial reporting focus on in the wake of Covid?

About the survey

The survey was fielded to the global membership of CFA Institute across all regions and jurisdictions where the organization has representation. The survey was conducted from 8 March - 28 March 2021. A total of 150,024 individuals received an invitation to participate. Of those, 6,040 provided a valid answer, for a total response rate of 4%. The margin of error was ±1.2%

For further information, please contact pr@cfainstitute.org



[1] Numbers do not total to 100% due to rounding.

Notes to editors

CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. Our aim is to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow. There are more than 170,000 CFA charterholders worldwide in 164 markets. CFA Institute has nine offices worldwide and there are 161 local member societies. For more information, visit www.cfainstitute.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFAInstitute and on Facebook.com/CFAInstitute.