CFOs See Improved Hiring Outlook for Fourth Quarter

MENLO PARK, Calif. -- Chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed for the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index forecast an increase in hiring during the fourth quarter of 2011.

Twelve percent of executives anticipate adding full-time accounting and finance employees, while 7 percent expect staff reductions. The net 5 percent of CFOs planning to hire is up four points from the third-quarter study and the highest projection in three years.

The Robert Half Financial Hiring Index, part of the company's quarterly Professional Employment Report, is based on telephone interviews with 1,400 CFOs across the United States. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half International, the world's first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the United States since 1992.

"Though companies are still generally conservative in their hiring outlooks, many are expanding their accounting and finance departments and need professionals with the right skills to help them accommodate new growth opportunities," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "Businesses also are adding staff in response to voluntary turnover as more employees are attracted by offers from other companies."

CFOs reported optimism about the overall outlook for their companies. Ninety-one percent of executives expressed at least some confidence in their firms' growth potential in the fourth quarter. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they are very confident, while 36 percent reported being somewhat confident.

View the research highlights

Accounting and Finance Hiring -- By Region

The West South Central(1)region is projected to see the most active financial hiring in the fourth quarter. Nineteen percent of executives interviewed from these states said they are planning to add full-time accounting and finance employees during this period. Four percent expect to reduce staff, resulting in a net 15 percent of CFOs in the region expecting personnel increases.
"West South Central firms, especially energy and manufacturing concerns, that are growing seek controllers, assistant controllers, and senior and staff accountants," Messmer commented. "Instances of top candidates receiving multiple employment offers are becoming more common in high-demand occupations."

Accounting and Finance Hiring -- By Industry

On an industry level, executives in the professional services sector are most likely to hire in the fourth quarter. Fourteen percent of CFOs plan to add staff and 5 percent expect cutbacks.

CFOs in manufacturing also anticipate above average hiring activity. A net 8 percent of executives in the industry forecast personnel increases.