Job Hunting

Prediction: A Year-End Hiring Spree

CFOs ready to add staff in the fourth quarter, Robert Half survey says. Find out what jobs they need to fill, and what salaries they carry.
Marie LeoneSeptember 12, 2007

Christmas may come early for job seekers in finance.

CFOs say they intend to hire more professionals during the fourth quarter than they did in the third, according to a new survey by staffing firm Robert Half International. What’s more, the hiring trend year-over-year is expected to rise two percentage points – from the 4 percent increase recorded in the final quarter of 2006, to 6 percent by year-end 2007.

Nine percent of the chief financial officers polled say they plan to add full-time employees in the fourth quarter, while 3 percent expect to make cuts in the finance staff. The net 6-percent increase is up three points from the third-quarter projection.

The drive to hire is being fueled by increasing workloads, business growth, and rising profitability, say finance executives. Indeed, 41 percent of CFOs who anticipate fourth-quarter hiring cite heavier work requirements for staff as the primary driver of demand, while 37 percent say business growth is the most relevant factor, and 10 percent claim that increased profitability is pushing them to hire more staff.

“Many companies are looking to expand their operations, and need accounting and finance personnel to accommodate this growth,” Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, tells Nevertheless, Capitol Hill is also responsible for adding to the workload. While most businesses already have met the initial Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance requirements, smaller companies – the non-accelerated filers – are hiring accounting and finance professionals to help with Section 404 requirements, says McDonald.

The quarterly survey – the Financial Hiring Index – is based on interviews with more than 1,400 finance chiefs from a cross-section of public and private companies with 20 or more employees. In general, says McDonald, the hiring outlook for accounting and finance professionals remains steady, reflecting continuing strong demand for highly skilled workers. It’s “a situation that is likely to intensify as demand persists and the workforce shrinks in the coming years” as baby boomers retire, the executive director says.

Nationally, the positions in greatest demand are staff and senior accountants, financial analysts, and internal auditors. However, cost accountants are highly sought by manufacturing and construction companies.

Demand also fluctuates by region. For instance, internal auditors are most sought after in the South Atlantic, East North Central, and West North Central States. That grouping extends as far south as Florida and as far west as the Dakotas. But controllers are in the greatest demand in the West South Central regions, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The fourth-quarter hiring projections reveal that South Atlantic states, which include Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Delaware, will be the most active in terms of hiring during the year’s final quarter. A net 11 percent of CFOs in that region will add full-time accounting and finance professionals. Specifically, 12 percent anticipate hiring new personnel, while 1 percent expects to reduce staff. Much of the new hiring in that region results from companies relocating from other parts of the country.

Hiring in the Pacific and West South Central states also will outperform national trends during the fourth quarter, the survey predicts, as a net 8 percent of CFOs in each region plan to add staff. Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington represent the Pacific states in the survey. Interestingly, both hiring and firing extremes will be evident in the Pacific region, where 14 percent of the CFOs claim they will add financial professionals in the fourth quarter, and 6 percent will reduce staff.

The only region to register a negative hiring trend is the West North Central sector, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Collectively, 4 percent of CFOs in those states say they will hire new staff, while 5 percent will cutback.

The survey also breaks down hiring trends by major city. CFOs hailing from Miami/Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas are the most bullish, with 12 percent in each locale saying they will bring on new staffers. However, 5 percent of those Florida and Nevada CFOs also say they will reduce staffs during the fourth quarter. The biggest hiring push comes from CFOs in Albany, Charlotte, and Portland, Oregon. Finance chiefs there expect to hire a net 8 percent more staffers the quarter – the highest net percentage recorded by the survey.

Conversely, CFOs in Baltimore, Dayton, and Los Angeles will trim their staffs rather than add to them. Eleven percent of finance chiefs in the City of Angels expect to let staff go, while just 10 percent plan to hire. Three percent of CFOs in Baltimore plan to hire, while 6 percent will fire; and 4 percent in Dayton will add, while 7 percent subtract.

By sector, the CFOs most optimistic in terms of hiring come from construction. Sixteen percent of those finance chiefs expect to add staff in the final quarter, and none say they will make staff cutbacks. CFOs in a sector that represents a trio of industries – finance, insurance, and real estate – are also upbeat. In results similar to those in the construction industry, 16 percent in that industrial threesome claim they will hire new staff, with 5 percent ready to shrink their finance departments.

Manufacturing and transportation companies will be sluggish about hiring as the year end approaches. According to the survey, 3 percent of the CFOs in the transportation sector will be adding staff, while 2 percent reduce employment. Manufacturing sector CFOs are more glum. Five percent of them will hire, while 6 percent cut staff.

According to Robert Half’s 2007 Salary Guide, compliance officers, controllers, and operational bookkeepers received the biggest bumps in pay. For example, salaries for chief compliance officers at large companies ($250 million or more in annual revenue) rose 14.4 percent over last year, now pegged between $132,000 and $181,250 per year. Pay for compliance analysts at large companies jumped 7 percent, to between $51,500 and $67,000.

Even at medium (between $25 million and $250 million) and small (up to $25 million) size companies, salaries for CCOs rose 9.3 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively. At medium companies, they made between $111,000 and $145,5000, and at small companies between $90,500 and $116,000. Compliance analysts at medium size companies made between $42,500 and 54,000 this year, a 3 percent increase over last year, while compliance analysts at small companies pulled down between $42,500 and $54,000, which marked a 3.2 percent increase.

Controllers at large companies posted a 7.7-percent salary gain this year, making between $122,500 and $153,500. Mid-size company controllers saw their pay increase by 3 percent, reaching between 71,750 and $153,500; pay for small company controllers rose by 3.3 percent to between $61,250 and $79,250.

Salaries for bookkeepers in charge of financial statements and general ledger tasks jumped by 6.2 percent at all companies in 2007, with pay landing between $37,500 and $48,250. Salaries for general bookkeepers rose by 6.7 percent to between $30,350 and $37,000. Accounting clerks only received a 4.4% increase in pay, hovering between $26,500 and $33,250.

Internal auditors, general accountants, and financial analysts made more modest salary gains. At large companies, internal audit managers now make between $77,500 and $101,500, a 5.8 percent rise over last year’s range. Meanwhile, managers who oversee general accounting departments and teams of financial analysts at large companies saw salary hikes of 3 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively. Salaries for general accounting managers at large companies range between $66,250 and $88,000; for financial analysis managers, the range is between $71,000 and $93,250.

Mid-size companies now pay internal audit managers between $67,500 and $86,750, 4.2 percent above last year’s range. General accounting managers at mid-size companies pull in between $55,500 and $72,500 annually, while financial analysis managers bring home between $64,250 and $80,500. That represents a 3.4 percent increase for general accountants, and a 3.7-percent increase for financial analysts.

The internal audit managers at small companies make between $61,250 and $77,250, a 2.8-percent increase over 2006. Salaries for general accounting managers at the smallest companies range between $51,250 and $66,000, a 3.3 percent rise; and financial analysis managers are paid between $55,750 and $70,000, representing a 5-percent bump.

As for the bosses, CFOs and treasurers at large companies enjoyed a 3.3-percent salary increase in 2007, with pay that ranges between $252,500 and $358,750. Their mid-size-company counterparts saw less of a pay hike, with a 2.8-percent rise that translated into a salary range of between $98,250 and $239,500. The salaries for small company CFOs and treasurers crept up 2.6 percent this year, with a payout of between $88,250 and $116,000 for the year.