Business Growth Seen As Key Driver For Accounting Staff Increases, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA -- Chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed for the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index anticipate a net 4 percent increase in the hiring of accounting and finance professionals during the third quarter, down two points from the second-quarter forecast but up four points from hiring projections made this time last year.  Among CFOs expecting to add staff, 59 percent cited business growth as the primary reason, an increase of 13 points from the second-quarter 2004 survey.

Seven percent of financial executives said they anticipate adding employees over the next three months and 3 percent expect reductions in personnel.  Eighty-eight percent of those polled 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, 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.

“The year-over-year increase in hiring optimism underscores recent positive economic trends that have raised business confidence levels,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half.  “Still, many companies remain conservative and are waiting for signs of sustainable growth before increasing their human resources budgets significantly.”

Messmer added, “Initiatives related to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance are fueling demand for accounting and internal audit professionals on a full-time and consulting basis.  This trend is likely to continue as organizations seek to ensure the accuracy of their financial reporting and strengthen their internal controls.”

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

CFOs in the South Atlantic1 states are the most optimistic about hiring in the third quarter.  Nine percent of executives anticipate adding financial staff and none foresee personnel reductions.

“Strength in the construction and mortgage industries has been driving growth in the South Atlantic region,” said Messmer.  “In addition to internal auditors to help with corporate governance-related activities, companies in these states report increased demand for financial analysts, accounts payable and receivable personnel, and general accounting professionals.”

A net 8 percent of CFOs in the New England2 region expect to bring in additional full-time accounting and finance staff during the third quarter.  Financial hiring activity in the East South Central3 and West South Central4 states is also expected to outpace the national average with a net 7 percent of executives in each region projecting increased hiring.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

Demand for accounting professionals is forecast to be greatest within the transportation industry.  Nineteen percent of CFOs in this sector plan to increase hiring and none expect to reduce staff levels.  The finance, insurance and real estate industry is projected to remain strong as well, with a net 11 percent of executives anticipating adding staff during the quarter.

CFOs working in the construction and retail industries also projected staffing activity above the national average, with a net 6 percent increase in hiring forecast within each sector.  A net 5 percent of executives within the wholesale and business-services industries plan to add accounting and finance personnel in the coming quarter.


Financial Hiring Index

Financial Hiring By Region

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

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

3 Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee

4 Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas

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