Financial Hiring Increase Expected to Start in 2004

November 26, 2003 ( - Seven percent of Chief Financial Officers (CFO) plan to add to their accounting and finance headcount in the first quarter of 2004.

Even with 5% of CFOs saying they would be cutting staff, the net 2% hiring increase is still up from the fourth quarter’s hiring forecast (See Small Hike Seen in Q4 Finance Staff Hiring ). The majority (88%) anticipates no change in their hiring plans, according to the most recent Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index.

For those with hiring plans set to kick off the new year, 37% said the move is due to anticipated business growth, up from 30% citing this reason in the previous poll. “As business activity increases, companies operating with reduced staff levels may be finding it more difficult to keep pace with workload demands,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Many firms are promoting core members of their teams and, as a result, are seeking to hire entry- and midlevel professionals who can expand the depth of skills in their departments.”

Hiring activity is projected to be the strongest in the Mountain region, with a net 7% increase in the hiring of financial professionals forecast. Broken down, 11% of CFOs in the region plan to add full-time staff and 4% anticipate personnel reductions.

“Businesses in the Mountain region report increased demand for credit and collections professionals, as well as senior and staff accountants with experience in the business services, health care and real estate industries,” Messmer said.

Also expecting to outpace the rest of the nation is the East North Central region, as the poll results predict a net hiring increase of 6%, due primarily to activity in the transportation, health care and manufacturing sectors fueling the demand for bookkeepers, credit and collections specialists, and cost accountants. Personnel additions are anticipated by 7% of CFOs in the region, while just 1% expect to cut staff.

Examining the numbers by industry, CFOs in the finance, insurance and real estate sector are expected to surpass other industries for the third consecutive quarter, with a net hiring increase of 5% projected for the first three months of the new year . Overall, 15% of financial executives in this industry segment expect to hire personnel, compared with 10% anticipating staff reductions.

They will be joined by CFOs in the manufacturing sector who are looking toward bringing on 4% more staff members in the first quarter. In this industry 7% of financial executives expect to add staff during the first quarter while 3% report plans to reduce staff.

The national poll includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from asample of US companies with 20 or more employees. Full survey results are available at .