Global talent shortage continues in accounting and finance

A shortage of experienced accounting and finance professionals continues to affect employers around the world, according to the second annual Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor. For the second consecutive year, more than half (56 percent) of the finance and human resources managers surveyed worldwide reported difficulty finding skilled job candidates. The report also found that retention concerns have risen significantly in the last year: 58 percent of respondents worldwide and 73 percent of respondents in the United States expressed concern about losing their top performers to other job opportunities, up from 43 percent and 46 percent, respectively, in 2007.

The global study was developed by Robert Half International, a staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance, and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey includes responses from more than 4,000 finance and human resources managers in 20 countries. The overall margin of error is +/- 1.5 percent, and the results are within 95 percent certainty.

"The results of this year's report reflect the challenges hiring managers around the world continue to face in locating and retaining highly skilled accounting and finance professionals," said Greg Scileppi, director of international operations for Robert Half International. "The perennial need for strong financial functions is fueling competition for the best candidates and prompting companies to develop more effective strategies to prevent the loss of their most valued employees."

The report indicates employers worldwide are spending significant time and effort interviewing job candidates in an effort to ensure a successful hire. Respondents said they are holding an average of three interviews per candidate before filling staff-level positions, compared to only two interviews last year. Employers also reported using project professionals more often, and at more senior levels, than during the last three years.

In addition, the Global Financial Employment Monitor revealed a dramatic shift in the most sought-after attributes of executive-level job candidates. Hiring managers surveyed from the United States said industry knowledge and experience was the most important attribute -- a trend reported in 16 of 20 countries surveyed. This reflects a marked change from last year's report, in which regulatory compliance expertise was the leading response.

"The global demand for executives with deep industry expertise represents a renewed emphasis on fundamental competitive performance," added Scileppi. "As regulatory compliance efforts have become better established, firms are returning their focus to maintaining an edge within their industries and seeking leaders who can help them do so."

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