Majority of Companies Expect No Change in Accounting and Finance Staff Levels

MENLO PARK, CA -- A net 2 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed for the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index predict decreases in accounting and finance personnel in the second quarter of 2009, with most (86 percent) executives reporting a desire to maintain current staff levels for the next three months. Five percent of respondents indicated they plan to add full-time employees while 7 percent expect staff reductions. 

The Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index is based on telephone interviews with more than 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 since 1992.

“Businesses are increasingly reluctant to hire in the current environment, choosing instead to maintain staff levels until they see definitive signs of an improving economy,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Companies that are hiring are more selective because they can be -- there is a larger pool of skilled applicants available. As a result, employers are taking extra time to identify and hire the best available person for each open position.”

Even with higher unemployment rates, however, some financial executives continue to report difficulty finding highly skilled professionals for certain functional areas. Twenty-five percent of CFOs interviewed cited accounting positions as the most difficult to fill, and 19 percent said they experience the greatest challenges when hiring for finance roles.

Accounting and Finance Hiring -- By Region
CFOs in the West South Central states expect the most hiring activity in the second quarter. A net 4 percent of CFOs in the region project additional hiring of full-time accounting and finance staff. Eleven percent of executives plan to add employees while 7 percent forecast personnel reductions.

“A diverse industry base, including sectors such as oil and gas that remain steady, has helped the West South Central weather some of the economic turmoil and maintain pockets of growth,” Messmer said. “Companies need mid-level general accountants, controllers and senior audit managers, and they place a particular priority on professionals able to assist in multiple areas.”

Robert Half commissioned additional interviews with CFOs in more than 40 major metropolitan areas to provide snapshots of financial hiring trends in these markets. The local results are available at

Accounting and Finance Hiring -- By Industry
Among industries, 6 percent of professional services CFOs expect to increase hiring in the second quarter and 4 percent plan a decrease, a net 2 percent increase. A net 2 percent of CFOs in the finance, insurance and real estate sector also said they will expand their staff levels.

About the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index
First published in 1992, the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. For the study to be statistically representative and ensure that businesses from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region and employee size. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportions of employee size within each region.

About Robert Half International
Robert Half International was founded in 1948 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Its financial staffing divisions include Accountemps , Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively. The company has more than 360 staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search services on its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at


[1] Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas


Financial Hiring Index Projections

Financial Hiring Index: Hardest-to-Fill Areas

Financial Hiring Index: Factors Driving Demand

Financial Hiring Index: By Company Size

Financial Hiring Index: By Region

Financial Hiring Index: By Industry

Financial Hiring Index: Two-Year History

Financial Hiring Index: Five-Year History

Financial Hiring Index: Local Market Projections


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