Finance professionals are putting in more hours on the job

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A new global report shows that many financial professionals are putting in more hours on the job than just two years ago, but exactly how much time varies widely by country. The Robert Half International research also suggests a trend toward increased accessibility of financial managers outside of the office.

Among the findings:

  • Forty-five percent of U.S. finance managers surveyed said their hours have increased over the last two years. Among those, two-thirds said they now work an additional five to 15 hours a week.
  • U.S. respondents cited working an average of 40.9 hours per week, more than the 40 hours the French reported but below the 42.2 hours worked in Germany, 43.8 hours in Italy and 47.1 hours in Japan. (A chart illustrating this data can be found at
  • Nearly four out of 10 (39 percent) of U.S. respondents said they sometimes or always take their laptops or PDAs with them on vacation, as compared to 16 percent in Ireland, a country near the top of the list in hours worked.
  • Only 32 percent of U.S. practitioners said they never work weekends, versus 65 percent in Spain and 51 percent in New Zealand. One-quarter of U.S. financial professionals say they work three or more weekends each month.

The Working Hours: A Global Comparison report was based on a global survey 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. The study includes responses from more than 2,200 financial managers across four continents, representing 17 countries.

Globally, 37 percent of financial professionals polled said they work between 39 and 45 hours per week, and more than half (52 percent) said they have been putting in more time over the last two years. The three most popular reasons for an increase in working hours are taking on more responsibility (56 percent), company growth (45 percent) and understaffing (27 percent).

"Finance and accounting managers have taken on new roles and responsibilities due to company expansion and the emphasis on corporate governance and compliance," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "This clearly has resulted in heavier workloads -- and, in many cases, the need to work longer hours."

Messmer noted that as business becomes more global, it's useful to understand typical work hours and preferences across cultures. "Professionals around the world have differing expectations of how and when they should work," he said. "As organizations branch into new countries, they must understand and respect the customs within different parts of the world. While it may be acceptable to call contacts in one location in the evening or during their vacation, for example, others may consider it intrusive or unprofessional."

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