Small Hike Seen in Q4 Finance Staff Hiring

August 21, 2003 ( - While most chief financial officers plan no additional finance staff hiring in the fourth quarter, a new survey finds signs of life in new jobs for accounting and finance professionals nonetheless.

According to the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index, just 8% of chief financial officers (CFOs) plan staff additions in the final quarter of 2003, while 7% anticipate cuts.  Still, the net 1% hiring increase is up a percentage point from the July to September forecast.   More than eight of 10 CFO survey respondents said they plan to maintain current staffing levels.

Among CFOs who said they plan to hire accounting and finance professionals before the end of the year, 30% said they need more people to handle additional business.

An Active South Atlantic Region

Looking at the regional picture, South Atlantic region CFOs anticipate the most active hiring activity during the fourth quarter, with a net 7% hiring gain. Some 13% of CFOs in the South Atlantic states plan to add staff, while just 6% anticipate personnel reductions.  

For the second consecutive quarter, CFOs in the East South Central region of the United States expect a net 5% increase in financial hiring. One in ten respondents plan to hire accounting and finance professionals, while 5% see finance staff cutbacks.

The Robert Half survey also examined the job picture in individual sectors. CFOs in finance, insurance and real estate are most optimistic about financial hiring in the coming quarter, with 30% of financial executives in that industry segment looking to hire personnel, while just 2% anticipate staff reductions. The net 28% hiring increase is up 17 points from the third-quarter forecast and is 27 points above the national average.

CFOs in the transportation and wholesale sectors also anticipate hiring activity above the national average, with net hiring increases of 8% and 7%, respectively, in these areas.

The national poll included responses from 1,400 CFOs from US companies with 20 or more employees.