Survey: Most finance executives confident in business growth

Financial executives are more optimistic today than they were this time last year. More than 80percent of financial leaders surveyed worldwide are at least somewhat confident in their companies' growth prospects, including 30 percent who are very confident, according to the annual Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor. Respondents also reported challenges locating skilledprofessionals forcertain jobs.

But while a healthier business environment and rising recruiting difficulties suggest the job market in accounting and finance might be improving, employers today seem less concerned about keeping top performers than they were one year ago. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they are at least somewhat worried about their ability to retain staff in the coming year, down from 53 percent in 2009.
 
The fourth annual Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor was developed by Robert Half International and is based on surveys conducted by independent research firms. The study, focusing on hiring difficulties, retention concerns and other staffing-related issues, includes responses from more than 6,300 financial leaders across 19 countries.
 
"While an air of caution remains, there are signs pointing to an improved hiring outlook," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "Business confidence and, in some cases, demand are rising, and firms will need highly skilled accounting and finance teams to sustain their momentum and support growth initiatives."
 
Globally, 83 percent of financial leaders said they are either very or somewhat confident in their companies' growth prospects for the next year. Nearly all managers in Brazil (98 percent) are at least somewhat optimistic. Other countries where executives are particularly confident include the United States (88 percent), Canada (91 percent), Italy (93 percent), Switzerland (93 percent), and Austria (88 percent).
 
Despite high unemployment rates in different parts of the world, recruiting can be challenging for employers. Financial leaders cited the most difficulty hiring for finance, accounting, and operational support positions. Global Financial Employment Monitor respondents said they anticipate making the most hires at the entry and staff levels, as cited by 26 percent and 25 percent of those surveyed, respectively.
 
"As the global economy improves, companies need personnel who can facilitate growth simply by performing fundamental accounting and finance responsibilities," Messmer said. "Firms seek financial professionals with the expertise to make an immediate contribution and a commitment to advance their careers with the organization over the long term."
 
Many employers anticipate hiring more experienced professionals as well. Globally, 22 percent of respondents expect to hire for senior or management personnel.
 
Although the job market has begun improving in many countries, financial leaders worldwide are less worried about retention. Fewer than half (45 percent) of respondents said they are very or somewhat concerned about losing their most valued employees to other opportunities in the next year, compared to 53 percent in 2009.
 
Heightened retention concerns were reported in Brazil (76 percent), Singapore (75 percent), and Hong Kong (72 percent). Even in countries where the job market remains uncertain, worries about retaining staff exist. In the United States, for example, nearly three in 10 (28 percent) are at least somewhat worried about their ability to keep top performers.
 
"Employers who delay their retention efforts may risk losing valuable employees," said Messmer. "When the competition for financial talent intensifies, these professionals will be even more difficult to replace."
 
About Robert Half International:
Robert Half International was founded in 1948 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Its financial staffing divisions include Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Robert Half Management Resources, for temporary, full-time, and senior-level project professionals, respectively. The company has more than 350 staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search services on its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at www.roberthalf.com.
 
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