PACE OF FINANCE STAFF CUTBACKS TO SLOW IN FIRST QUARTER

More Than One-Third of Employers Surveyed ‘Very Confident’ in Growth Prospects

MENLO PARK, CA -- The employment outlook in accounting and finance remains challenging but, according to the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index, shows signs of stabilizing. While a net 3 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed plan accounting and finance personnel reductions in the first quarter of 2010, this represents an improvement from the net 6 percent forecast the previous quarter. Most executives -- 84 percent -- expect no changes to their staffing levels.

Six percent of executives plan to increase hiring in the first quarter and 9 percent foresee personnel reductions. Compared to the fourth quarter projections, the number anticipating adding staff rose while the number projecting cutbacks declined.

 

CFOs also expressed confidence in their companies’ growth prospects. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they are “very confident” they will see business growth in the first quarter, while 45 percent described themselves as “somewhat confident.”

 

The Robert Half 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, the world’s first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the United States since 1992.

 

“Companies remain cautious about hiring and are maintaining their current personnel levels until they gain confidence in the long-term economic outlook,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half. “However, some firms have found they reduced staff too aggressively, while others may recognize they can only cut so deeply before it affects their ability to meet growth demands.”

 

Despite current unemployment levels, CFOs continue to report challenges finding highly skilled professionals for certain functional areas. Twenty-five percent of financial executives said accounting roles are the hardest to fill, and 20 percent said they experience the most difficulty hiring for operational support positions.  

Accounting and Finance Hiring -- By Region
The Middle Atlantic1 states are projected to experience the most active hiring in the first quarter: A net 5 percent of CFOs in the region anticipate adding full-time accounting and finance staff.

“Hiring in the Middle Atlantic states is being driven primarily by the healthcare, insurance and professional services sectors,” Messmer said. “There is notable demand for financial analysts and professionals with a regulatory background.”

Accounting and Finance Hiring -- By Industry
While most industries project net decreases in personnel levels during the first three months of the new year, a net 4 percent of CFOs in the manufacturing sector predict a rise in hiring. In addition, 85 percent of manufacturing executives said they are very or somewhat confident about their companies’ growth prospects in the first quarter.

About the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index

First published in 1992, the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. For the study to be statistically representative and ensure that businesses from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region and employee size. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportions of employee size within each region.

 

About Robert Half

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 360 staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search services on its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at www.roberthalf.com.

 

Financial Hiring Index

Financial Hiring Index: By Region

Financial Hiring Index: By Industry

Financial Hiring Index: By Company Size

Financial Hiring Index: Hardest-to-Fill Functional Areas

Financial Hiring Index: Factors Driving Demand

Financial Hiring Index: Two-Year History

Financial Hiring Index: Five-Year History

Financial Hiring Index: CFOs’ Confidence

 


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