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What jobs crisis? CFOs seek finance hires

Roy Harris | Sept. 9, 2011
Finance hiring by companies seems ready for an upturn, based on Robert Half survey forecasting Q4 trends.

Despite overall worries about how to reduce joblessness -- which President Obama will put on display tonight -- the fourth quarter looks like a strong one for finance hiring, CFOs say.

Among finance executives interviewed for the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index, 12% said they were anticipating adding full-time accounting and finance employees, with 7% expecting reductions. The net 5% positive reading is up four points from the third-quarter study, Half said, and amounts to the highest projection in three years.

CFO optimism also was strong, 55% of respondents saying they are very confident in their overall outlook for their companies, with 36% being somewhat confident -- for a 91% confidence-vs.-lack-of-confidence report.

The 19-year-old index is conducted by an independent research firm for Half, the financial staffing and management services company. It is based on 1,400 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sampling of U.S. companies that have 20 or more employees.

"Though companies are still generally conservative in their hiring outlooks, many are expanding their accounting and finance departments and need professionals with the right skills to help them accommodate new growth opportunities," Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, said in a press release. "Businesses also are adding staff in response to voluntary turnover as more employees are attracted by offers from other companies."

Measured by region, Half's west-south-central area appeared to be most geared up for financial hiring in Q4, with 19% of executives saying they plan to add accounting and finance employees, either part-time or full-time. Staff reductions are planned by 4%, for a net gain of 15%.

Said Messmer about that region's performance, "West south dentral firms, especially energy and manufacturing concerns, that are growing, seek controllers, assistant controllers, and senior and staff accountants. Instances of top candidates receiving multiple employment offers are becoming more common in high-demand occupations."

Broken down by industry, professional services seems most likely to hire, with additions in finance being planned by 14% of CFOs, and 5% expect cutbacks. In manufacturing, CFOs expect hiring activity that is above average. Personnel increases are expected by 8% of the interviewed executives.


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