Net Increase Projected Up Five Points Year Over Year, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA -- The hiring of full-time accounting and finance professionals is expected to increase slightly in the fourth quarter of 2004, according to the most recent Robert Half Financial Hiring Index.  Eight percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed plan to add staff during the quarter, and 2 percent anticipate reductions in personnel.  The net 6 percent hiring increase is up two percentage points from the third-quarter 2004 forecast and up five points from this time last year.  The majority of respondents, 89 percent, anticipate no change in hiring.

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, 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.

“Although some companies appear to be laying the groundwork for bringing in new personnel, many are monitoring economic developments before committing to additional full-time employees,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half.  “One constant is the continued hiring of accounting and finance professionals who can help companies with projects stemming from corporate governance compliance efforts.”

Among CFOs who said they plan to hire accounting and finance professionals before the end of the year, 58 percent cited expansion in their business as the primary factor driving the need.  This is little changed from the previous quarter’s response of 59 percent.  The percentage of respondents who identified rising workloads as the main factor fueling demand for new staff increased by seven points over the third-quarter forecast, from 8 percent to 15 percent.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

CFOs in New England1 are the most optimistic about hiring activity in the fourth quarter.  Fourteen percent of executives in the region anticipate adding financial staff and 3 percent foresee personnel reductions, for a net increase of 11 percent.

“The need for accounting and finance professionals in the construction and insurance industries, in particular, is contributing to the strong hiring forecasts in New England,” Messmer said.  “Sarbanes-Oxley compliance initiatives continue to drive demand for internal auditors, and increased accounting workloads are prompting many businesses to seek qualified accounts payable and receivable specialists, and payroll professionals.”

Executives from the East North Central2 states also project above-average hiring activity.  A net 9 percent of CFOs in the region expect to add full-time accounting and finance staff during the fourth quarter.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

Nationwide, CFOs working in the construction industry forecast the greatest increase in the hiring of accounting professionals.  Fourteen percent of executives plan to increase hiring, while none expect to reduce staff levels.

Hiring activity in the wholesale sector is projected to be above the national average as well, with a net 11 percent of survey respondents planning to add staff during the quarter.  Demand for accounting professionals is also expected to be strong among manufacturing firms and in the finance, insurance and real estate industry.  CFOs in these two industry sectors forecast net hiring increases of 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively.


Financial Hiring Index

Financial Hiring Index By Region

Financial Hiring Index By Industry


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 325 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 Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont

2 Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin

print Print   email E-mail   rss RSS