Business Growth Continues To Fuel Demand For Accountants, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA December 8, 20014 --Chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed for the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index expect a net 5 percent increase in the hiring of accounting professionals in the first quarter of 2005, down one point from the previous quarter’s forecast but three points above projections made this time last year.  Nine percent of executives polled plan to add staff, and 4 percent anticipate reductions in personnel.  Eighty-six percent of respondents foresee no change in staff levels.

The national poll includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.  It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half International Inc., the world’s largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting, finance and information technology.  Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the United States since 1992.

“While still conservative, the hiring outlook is stronger than it was one year ago,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half.  “In addition to seeking accounting and finance staff to assist with internal audit and corporate governance requirements, companies are also looking for professionals to support future business expansion.”

Sixty-five percent of executives who plan to hire during the first three months of 2005 cited business growth as the primary driver, up seven points from the fourth-quarter 2004 survey.

Messmer added, “As the need for skilled accounting professionals continues to grow, companies are beginning to place more emphasis on recruiting top candidates, particularly for in-demand specialties such as internal audit and financial analysis.”

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

CFOs in the West South Central1 region forecast the greatest hiring activity during the first quarter, with a net 9 percent planning to add full-time accounting and finance employees.  Twelve percent of executives from this region of the United States expect to hire, and 3 percent anticipate personnel cutbacks.

“Both publicly traded and private companies in the West South Central states report demand for professionals with CPA designations and public accounting experience,” Messmer said.  “Demand is especially strong in the energy and healthcare sectors.”

Hiring in the West North Central2 and Mountain3 states is also projected to be above the national average, with a net 8 percent and 7 percent of CFOs, respectively, expecting to bring in accounting and finance staff during the first quarter.  A net 6 percent of executives in the South Atlantic4 and East South Central5 regions of the country plan to add full-time staff in the coming months.

Robert Half has conducted additional interviews in select metro areas to provide more detailed analysis on financial hiring trends in these cities.  The local results are available at

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

Financial hiring within the wholesale sector should outpace all other industries, survey results show.  Fourteen percent of executives polled expect to add personnel and none forecast declines in staff levels.

CFOs in the transportation industry also project higher than average financial hiring activity -- a net 8 percent plan to increase personnel.  In the finance, insurance and real estate sector, a net 7 percent of financial executives plan to add staff.


Financial Hiring Index

Financial Hiring Index By Region

Financial Hiring Index By Industry

Financial Hiring Index Five-Year History

Financial Hiring Index Local Market Projections


Robert Half was founded in 1948 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.  Its financial staffing divisions include Accountemps®, Robert Half® Finance & Accounting and Robert Half® Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively.  The company has more than 330 offices throughout North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and offers online job search services on its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at

1 Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas

2 Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

3 Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming

4 Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

5 Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee

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