Majority of Companies Expect No Change in Accounting and Finance Staff Levels

MENLO PARK, CA — A net 2 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed for the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index predict decreases in accounting and finance personnel in the second quarter of 2009, with most (86 percent) executives reporting a desire to maintain current staff levels for the next three months. Five percent of respondents indicated they plan to add full-time employees while 7 percent expect staff reductions. 

The Robert Half International 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 since 1992.

“Businesses are increasingly reluctant to hire in the current environment, choosing instead to maintain staff levels until they see definitive signs of an improving economy,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Companies that are hiring are more selective because they can be — there is a larger pool of skilled applicants available. As a result, employers are taking extra time to identify and hire the best available person for each open position.”

Even with higher unemployment rates, however, some financial executives continue to report difficulty finding highly skilled professionals for certain functional areas. Twenty-five percent of CFOs interviewed cited accounting positions as the most difficult to fill, and 19 percent said they experience the greatest challenges when hiring for finance roles.

Accounting and Finance Hiring — By Region
CFOs in the West South Central states expect the most hiring activity in the second quarter. A net4 percent of CFOs in the region project additional hiring of full-time accounting and finance staff.Eleven percent of executives plan to add employees while 7 percent forecast personnel reductions.

“A diverse industry base, including sectors such as oil and gas that remain steady, has helped the West South Central weather some of the economic turmoil and maintain pockets of growth,” Messmer said. “Companies need mid-level general accountants, controllers and senior audit managers, and they place a particular priority on professionals able to assist in multiple areas.”

Robert Half commissioned additional interviews with CFOs in more than 40 major metropolitan areas to provide snapshots of financial hiring trends in these markets. The local results are available at www.roberthalf.com/PressRoom.

Accounting and Finance Hiring — By Industry
Among industries, 6 percent of professional services CFOs expect to increase hiring in the second quarter and 4 percent plan a decrease, a net 2 percent increase. A net 2 percent of CFOs in the finance, insurance and real estate sector also said they will expand their staff levels.

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