CFOs Plan Moderate Hiring Activity in Second Quarter

According to a recent poll, Chief financial officers (CFOs) foresee a slight increase in financial hiring in the second quarter of 2002, according to the just-released Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index. Seven percent of CFOs surveyed said their firms plan to add accounting and finance personnel and 3 percent expect staff reductions. The net 4 percent increase is up one percentage point from the previous quarter's forecast. Eighty-six percent of executives anticipate no change in hiring activity.

The national poll includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half International Inc., the world's largest staffing services firm specializing in the accounting, finance and information technology fields.

"The financial hiring outlook remains conservative," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "While there are signs of increased optimism among many businesses, the majority of companies appear to be maintaining existing personnel levels pending more definitive signs of economic recovery and business growth."

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

The East North Central states will lead the nation in financial hiring activity, according to the survey. Eight percent of CFOs plan to expand their accounting and finance departments and none anticipate reductions. "Companies in the East North Central region that operated with reduced staff over the past year are beginning to invest in additional personnel," Messmer said. "As a result, there is heightened demand for accounting professionals at all levels."

CFOs in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States also forecast notable employment gains in the second quarter. Ten percent of executives plan to add accounting and finance staff, and 4 percent foresee personnel cutbacks, for a net hiring increase of 6 percent. "Businesses in the Mid-Atlantic states report a need for junior and staff level accounting and finance professionals," Messmer said. "Job titles in demand include accounts receivable specialists, senior accountants and financial analysts."

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

CFOs in the finance, insurance and real estate sector are most optimistic about hiring activity in the second quarter, according to the survey. Twenty-nine percent of executives plan to expand their accounting and finance departments and 8 percent foresee staff cutbacks, for a net hiring increase of 21 percent. "Low interest rates and an active real estate market in many areas of the country are creating a need for additional accounting personnel in businesses that support this industry," Messmer said.

Financial hiring activity should also exceed the national average among retail and wholesale businesses. CFOs in both industries anticipate a net 7 percent increase in the hiring of accounting and finance personnel. Financial executives in the manufacturing sector project a net 5 percent increase in hiring, slightly above the national average.

For charts illustrating the Hiring Index by region or by industry, please view the complete online version


Robert Half International Inc. was founded in 1948 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RHI). Its financial staffing divisions include Accountemps®, Robert Half® and RHI Management Resources®, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively. The company has more than 330 offices throughout North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and offers online job search services at www.rhi.com.

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