CFOs expect little change in hiring activity in the fourth quarter

Most financial executives plan to maintain their current accounting and finance staff levels in the fourth quarter, according to the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index. Eighty-four percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said they will take no hiring actions before the end of the year. Four percent of respondents expect to add full-time employees while 10 percent foresee cutbacks, up from 8 percent who forecast personnel reductions last quarter.

The Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CFOs across the United States. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half International, a staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the United States since 1992.
 
Additional findings, including historical comparisons and data for more than 40 major metropolitan areas, are available at www.roberthalf.com/PressRoom.
 
“Organizations appear to be exercising caution before adding full-time staff until there are signs of a sustained recovery,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “At the same time, companies recognize that carefully chosen accounting and finance professionals are critical to their efforts to manage what remains of the recession and also to take advantage of growth opportunities once conditions improve.”
 
Added Messmer, “Some firms are finding they have cut staff levels too deeply in an effort to reduce costs and are bringing in temporary professionals to help meet business demands.”
 
Despite current unemployment levels, CFOs continue to report challenges finding highly skilled professionals for certain functional areas. Twenty-five percent of financial executives said accounting positions are the most difficult to fill, while audit and operational support roles were each cited by 19 percent of respondents. 
 
Accounting and Finance Hiring – By Region
 
The West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota ) states are projected to experience the most active hiring in the fourth quarter. However, even in this region the overall sentiment among CFOs is that staff levels will remain constant: A net 2 percent of survey respondents anticipate adding full-time accounting and finance employees while 90 percent expect no change.
 
“The economy has shown signs of stabilization in parts of the West North Central region, and some companies, recognizing the stronger pool of available candidates, are hiring to upgrade the skills of their teams,” Messmer said. “In particular, companies continue to focus on achieving cost savings and seek tax, cost and staff accountants.”
 
Accounting and Finance Hiring – By Industry
 
The finance, insurance, and real estate industries are projected to see an increase in accounting and finance hiring. A net 6 percent of CFOs in the sector said they plan to add staff in the fourth quarter.
 
About the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index
 
First published in 1992, the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. For the study to be statistically representative and ensure that businesses from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region and employee size. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportions of employee size within each region.
 

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