Christmas may come early for job seekers in finance.
CFOs say they intend to hire more professionals during the fourth quarter than they did in the third, according to a new survey by staffing firm Robert Half International. What’s more, the hiring trend year-over-year is expected to rise two percentage points – from the 4 percent increase recorded in the final quarter of 2006, to 6 percent by year-end 2007.
Nine percent of the chief financial officers polled say they plan to add full-time employees in the fourth quarter, while 3 percent expect to make cuts in the finance staff. The net 6-percent increase is up three points from the third-quarter projection.
The drive to hire is being fueled by increasing workloads, business growth, and rising profitability, say finance executives. Indeed, 41 percent of CFOs who anticipate fourth-quarter hiring cite heavier work requirements for staff as the primary driver of demand, while 37 percent say business growth is the most relevant factor, and 10 percent claim that increased profitability is pushing them to hire more staff.
“Many companies are looking to expand their operations, and need accounting and finance personnel to accommodate this growth,” Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, tells CFO.com. Nevertheless, Capitol Hill is also responsible for adding to the workload. While most businesses already have met the initial Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance requirements, smaller companies – the non-accelerated filers – are hiring accounting and finance professionals to help with Section 404 requirements, says McDonald.
The quarterly survey – the Financial Hiring Index – is based on interviews with more than 1,400 finance chiefs from a cross-section of public and private companies with 20 or more employees. In general, says McDonald, the hiring outlook for accounting and finance professionals remains steady, reflecting continuing strong demand for highly skilled workers. It’s “a situation that is likely to intensify as demand persists and the workforce shrinks in the coming years” as baby boomers retire, the executive director says.
Nationally, the positions in greatest demand are staff and senior accountants, financial analysts, and internal auditors. However, cost accountants are highly sought by manufacturing and construction companies.
Demand also fluctuates by region. For instance, internal auditors are most sought after in the South Atlantic, East North Central, and West North Central States. That grouping extends as far south as Florida and as far west as the Dakotas. But controllers are in the greatest demand in the West South Central regions, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The fourth-quarter hiring projections reveal that South Atlantic states, which include Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Delaware, will be the most active in terms of hiring during the year’s final quarter. A net 11 percent of CFOs in that region will add full-time accounting and finance professionals. Specifically, 12 percent anticipate hiring new personnel, while 1 percent expects to reduce staff. Much of the new hiring in that region results from companies relocating from other parts of the country.
Hiring in the Pacific and West South Central states also will outperform national trends during the fourth quarter, the survey predicts, as a net 8 percent of CFOs in each region plan to add staff. Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington represent the Pacific states in the survey. Interestingly, both hiring and firing extremes will be evident in the Pacific region, where 14 percent of the CFOs claim they will add financial professionals in the fourth quarter, and 6 percent will reduce staff.