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Expect Another Q4 Finance Hiring Spurt

Robert Half International survey shows 10 percent of CFOs planning to add accounting staffers to keep up with workloads.
Stephen TaubSeptember 3, 2008

For the third straight year, you can expect a fourth-quarter spurt in the hiring of accounting and finance employees in the U.S.

Ten percent of CFOs say they plan to expand the size of their teams in the final three-month period, according to the latest survey by employment firm Robert Half International, with 5 five percent anticipating reductions. The net 5-percent jump in employment in the area is up five points from the third-quarter projection. Robert Half assembles its quarterly Hiring Index from telephone interviews with more than 1,400 U.S. CFOs.

In last year’s survey at this time, the results were pointing toward a 6-percent increase in accounting and finance hiring, up from the 4 percent jump in the final quarter of 2006.

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Explanations for this year’s expected hiring upturn are also found in the survey results. They show that 44 percent of the CFOs planning to hire are expecting business growth that will require additional staff, while 41 percent cite rising workloads as the primary driver.

“Businesses need a strong financial function to see them through all economic cycles,” says Max Messmer, Half’s chairman and CEO. “This has created ongoing demand for accounting and finance staff with specialized abilities and expertise. In particular, firms seek staff and senior accountants, financial analysts, and internal auditors.”

The most active hiring is expected to take place among firms with 20 to 49 employees, where a net 6 percent of CFOs project adding staff. Eleven percent of executives plan to hire full-time financial professionals and 5 percent anticipate decreasing personnel levels.

The East South Central states (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee) along with New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) should see the greatest gains in hiring during the fourth quarter.

“Growth in the manufacturing sector in the East South Central states is among the trends driving the need for additional financial staff, particularly midlevel accounting professionals,” Messmer says. “In the New England region, financial analysts are needed to help firms identify further operating efficiencies.”

Among industries, executives in wholesale are most optimistic about hiring. Thirteen percent of CFOs anticipate adding accounting and finance employees in the fourth quarter, while 1 percent foresee a reduction in personnel, a net 12 percent increase. The manufacturing, transportation and finance, insurance, and real estate industries most anticipate adding personnel in the quarter.