CFOs Report Hefty Post-Sarbanes Hiring

Respondents to a new survey also overwhelmingly support the Enron verdicts and propose sentences of 20-plus years.

Corporate finance staffing at public companies has increased by 68 percent since Sarbanes-Oxley was implemented in 2002, according to the latest quarterly survey of chief financial officers conducted by Financial Executives International and Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business.

Staffing also increased at private companies, but by only 15 percent. It also appears that the hiring pool is being drained of quality talent; 63 percent of respondents said that it has become more difficult to find qualified candidates to fill vacant positions.

These were among the most significant findings of the survey, conducted by FEI and Baruch in June with 207 CFOs.

Survey respondents overwhelming supported the jury’s decision in the Enron trial; just 3 percent disagreed with the guilty verdicts against Kenneth Lay and only 2 percent with the verdicts against Jeffrey Skilling. Few believe they should receive the maximum sentences, but the prison time they did propose was 20 years for Lay and 25 years for Skilling.

Colleen Cunningham, president and chief executive officer of FEI, noted in a press release that according to survey respondents, ignorance is no defense for a CEO or a CFO. Cunningham added that respondents are “committed to demonstrating that Enron was the exception, not the rule.”

Other survey findings:

• On average, CFOs expect prices will increase 3.3 percent over the next 12 months; last quarter’s forecast was for only a 1.5 percent increase.

• 76 percent expect their companies to raise prices, a slight increase compared with the 71 percent who felt that way during the first quarter.

• 73 percent expect their companies to increase capital spending over the next 12 months, by an average of 8.1 percent, up from last quarter’s projected 6.6 percent.

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