Report Suggests Worldwide Finance and Accounting Talent Shortage

October 11, 2007 ( - Employers around the world are concerned about the effects of a shortage of accounting and finance professionals, according to a recently released report.

The Robert Half International Global Financial Employment Monitor says that more than half of the finance and human resources managers surveyed (56%) reported difficulty finding skilled job candidates and 43% expressed concern about losing top performers to other job opportunities, according to a Robert Half press release. The situation seems most severe in Asia where 83% of respondents from Japan and 82% of respondents from Hong Kong reported finding skilled financial professionals was a challenge.

The report indicates that currently companies around the globe are spending an average of five weeks to fill staff-level accounting and finance positions and eight weeks for management roles, the press release said. The most sought-after attribute for executives cited by respondents in nearly every country was experience in compliance – emphasizing the increased international emphasis on corporate governance.

Managers in the U.S. reported the greatest difficulty hiring for executive positions and indicated they are moving quickly to secure these candidates. U.S. respondents said their firms are taking six weeks to hire for management positions, two weeks less than the global average.

“Recruiting and retaining top financial professionals may become more challenging in the years ahead due to increasing demand for this expertise and the potential retirement of millions of baby boomers around the world,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, in the press release. “To build effective teams, employers will need to offer attractive compensation packages, as well as programs that support professional development and work-life balance.”

The international study developed by Robert Half International and conducted by an independent research firm includes responses from more than 5,000 finance and human resources managers in 17 countries throughout North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 

A recent survey from Deloitte Consulting found chief financial officers said a new kind of talent is needed to steer the finance function beyond traditional roles within a company and to a new level of strategic leadership, but few companies are doing what it takes to attract top talent and few graduates see the finance function as a good starting career (See  CFOs Fear Impending Finance Talent Shortage ).