CFOs Predict Finance Hiring Will Be Up in Q3

May 27, 2004 ( - Chief financial officers (CFO) continue to maintain a rosy hiring outlook for the year, predicting a 4% increase in the number of accounting and finance pros to be hired next quarter.

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.