CFOs report on hiring plans for third quarter

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Executives interviewed recently for the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index said that, for the most part, staff levels in their accounting and finance departments will remain unchanged in the third quarter. Eighty-four percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said they would neither increase nor decrease the size of their teams. Those who do anticipate making changes in the coming quarter were evenly split, with 6 percent saying they would add personnel and 6 percent expecting staff reductions.

Research shows employers continue to have difficulty locating skilled employees. Accounting positions are the most challenging to hire for, according to 32 percent of CFOs, while audit and finance roles were each cited by 18 percent of respondents as the hardest to fill.

The 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, the world's first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the United States since 1992.

"While the job market has become more competitive in a number of fields, demand for skilled accounting and finance professionals is holding steady," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "In fact, for many key positions, it remains a challenge to find experienced candidates."

Messmer added, "The accounting and finance functions are integral in any economy. Firms focused on the need to effectively manage company resources place a premium on job applicants with success identifying cost efficiencies and controlling expenses."

Thirty-six percent of CFOs who expect to expand their staff size in the first quarter said business growth is creating the need for additional personnel; 31 percent of executives attributed the need to hire to rising workloads.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

The Middle Atlantic (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) and West South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas) states should see the most active financial hiring this summer. A net 4 percent of CFOs in each region anticipate adding full-time accounting and finance professionals during the third quarter.

"In the Middle Atlantic states, businesses need highly skilled practitioners to handle responsibilities ranging from budget forecasting to strategic planning," said Messmer. "Controllers, accounting managers and tax specialists are in particularly strong demand.

"Much of the hiring activity in the West South Central region is being created by the energy sector, which also is spurring growth in other industries," added Messmer. "Companies are looking to hire mid- to senior-level professionals to assist with growth initiatives but in many cases are finding a shortage of highly skilled job candidates."

Robert Half has conducted additional CFO interviews in major metropolitan areas to provide more detailed analyses of financial hiring trends in these markets. You can read the local results.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

The financial hiring outlook is most optimistic among business services firms. Nine percent of CFOs in the sector plan to increase personnel levels, and 3 percent foresee reductions, a net 6 percent increase in hiring.

Hiring activity also is expected to outpace the national average in the finance, insurance and real estate and wholesale industries. A net 5 percent of CFOs interviewed in each sector anticipate adding staff.

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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