Chief financial officers expect hiring in the corporate finance department to be flat during the first quarter of the new year, with 90 percent of the finance chiefs indicating that their hiring plans will remain the same as the last quarter of 2006. However, of the 1,400 CFOs surveyed in the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index, 6 percent said they plan to add full-time accounting and finance employees, while 3 percent expect to reduce their corporate finance staff.
The national poll includes responses from finance executives working at a wide range of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.
More than half (55 percent) of the CFOs who anticipate adding to their corporate finance staff in the first quarter cited business growth as the number one reason to welcome new workers, up from 46 percent in the fourth-quarter survey. Rising workloads ranked second, with 21 percent of the CFOs citing that reason. “Continued hiring, driven by business expansion, rising workloads and ongoing compliance initiatives, has created a tight labor market for skilled accounting and finance professionals,” commented Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, in a statement. “This is prompting increased competition for the best talent, especially for positions such as staff and senior accountant, internal auditor and financial analyst.”
As expected, the land of Microsoft and Google will be the most active region in terms of adding financial staff. The survey noted that the Pacific states (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington ) will do the most hiring, with 13 percent of the CFOs in that region planning to hire full-time accounting and finance professionals. Nevertheless, 3 percent of the CFOs in the Pacific states will cut their corporate finance staffs.
Messmer explains that CFOs in the Pacific region are looking for mid-level accounting and finance professions to assist with growing workloads. Demand is also strong for payroll, budget forecasting, and corporate governance workers. Furthermore, Messmer expects hiring in the East South Central and New England states to exceed the national average.
Among industries, the most active financial hiring in the first quarter will likely take place within the business services sector. Of the CFOs polled from that sector, 11 percent said they plan to hire staff, while 3 percent expect to reduce staff. Corporate finance employees in the construction, retail, finance, insurance, and real estate industries also will outpace the national average, concludes the survey.
On the whole, optimism among CFOs has hit its lowest point since the last recession, according to the latest Duke University/CFO Business Outlook Survey. Just 20 percent of finance chiefs are more optimistic about the direction of the U.S. economy, down from the third quarter, when 24 percent had a positive outlook. The gloomy picture stems from continued worries about consumer demand, the rising cost of labor, and high fuel prices, according to the survey.