Finance, Insurance And Real Estate Sector Continues To See Strongest Gains

MENLO PARK, CA -- The hiring of accounting and finance professionals is expected to increase modestly in the fourth quarter of 2003, according to the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index. Eight percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed plan to add staff in the fourth quarter, and 7 percent anticipate reductions in personnel. The net 1 percent hiring increase is up one percentage point from the third-quarter forecast. The majority of respondents, 81 percent, anticipate no change in hiring, and 4 percent were undecided.

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 overall hiring environment remains conservative as executives wait for evidence of a sustained economic recovery," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half. "Businesses are adding staff gradually, as productivity demands increase."

Among CFOs who said they plan to hire accounting and finance professionals before the end of the year, 30 percent cited an increase in business as the primary factor driving the demand.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

CFOs in the South Atlantic1 region anticipate the most active hiring during the fourth quarter, with a net 7 percent increase in the hiring of financial professionals forecast. Thirteen percent of CFOs in the South Atlantic states plan to add staff, and 6 percentanticipate personnel reductions.

"Businesses in the South Atlantic region report increased demand for senior and staff accountants, financial analysts and controllers with experience in financial services, insurance and real estate," Messmer said.

For the second consecutive quarter, CFOs in the East South Central2 region of the United States expect a net 5 percent increase in financial hiring. Ten percent of the financial executives surveyed in this region plan to hire accounting and finance professionals, while 5 percent foresee staff reductions.

"Financial hiring in the East South Central region is strongest within the business services, manufacturing and healthcare industries, where there is demand for cost accountants, financial analysts and bookkeepers" Messmer added.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

CFOs in finance, insurance and real estate are most optimistic about financial hiring in the coming quarter. Thirty percent of financial executives in this industry segment expect to hire personnel, and just 2 percent anticipate staff reductions. The net 28 percent hiring increase is up 17 points from the third-quarter forecast and is 27 points above the national average.

"The sharp rise in demand for qualified accounting and finance professionals underscores a strong level of business activity," Messmer noted. "Home buyers acting on low interest rates continue to fuel demand for residential real estate, mortgage loans and refinancing. Furthermore, many banks are responding to new government regulations, which is placing a premium on financial professionals to assist with compliance requirements."

CFOs in the transportation and wholesale sectors also anticipate hiring activity above the national average, with net hiring increases of 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively, in these industry segments.

Robert Half (NYSE: RHI) 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 320 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 Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee


Financial Hiring Index

Financial Hiring by Region

Financial Hiring by Industry

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