Financial chiefs do not necessarily expect the increase to happen at their firms, however. The vast majority (88%) of the 1,400 CFOs surveyed for the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index predicted no change in staff levels at their own companies, compared to 7% that anticipated a net increase and 3% contemplating a reduction.
Overall, the predictions for the third quarter came in slightly behind those of the second quarter, when CFOs expected a net 6% hiring increase. Compared to the third quarter of 2003’s projections of no gain or loss, the latest poll is a marked improvement.
Asked for the impetus behind the addition of finance and accounting staff, 59% of CFO cited business growth as the main reason, up 13 percentage points from last quarter’s study. One reason for the growth are initiatives related to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, Robert Half said, a trend the firm said is likely to continue.
By region, CFOs in the South Atlantic st ates are the most optimistic about hiring in the third quarter, where 9% anticipate adding financial staff and none foresee personnel reductions. Also expected to outpace the national average in the third quarter are employers in the New England (a net 8% increase), as well as East South Central and West South Central regions (net 7% increases in both regions).
Across industry lines, demand for accounting professionals is forecast to be greatest within the transportation industry, where 19% of CFOs plan to increase hiring and none expect to reduce staff levels. The finance, insurance and real estate industry is projected to remain strong as well, with a net 11% of executives anticipating adding staff during the quarter.