Bull Bear Report Mar 07 2011

Accountants and Finance Staff in Demand, Says Survey

By julie steinberg

Finance staff and accountants will be in demand in the second quarter of 2011, the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index indicated.

Of the 1,400 CFO respondents to the survey regarding hiring plans, 85% said they expect to make no changes to their current staffing levels. The remainder are split on hiring with 7% planning to add accounting and finance professionals and 7% anticipating making cuts. The even split is down two points from the forecast for the first quarter, when 8% of CFOs said they would hire and 6% said they would lay off, resulting in a net 2% planning to hire.

The numbers don't tell the whole story, according to Brett Good, a senior district president with Robert Half. The survey doesn't take into account the market's recent improvement.

"We expect slight increases in hiring during the second quarter," he said. "For three out of four weeks we've seen declines in the number of unemployment claims."

Good said the zero percent was a "conservative estimate" that will increase as the quarter gets underway.

Robert Half has seen an increase in requisitions for accountants, financial analysts and business systems analysts and expects them to continue into the second quarter.

The survey also found that most hiring will take place in the Pacific states (Alaska, California, Oregon, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington). A net 7% of CFOs plan to hire in those states, followed by the Middle Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania), where a net 5% of CFOs anticipate bringing on staff.

Two other recent surveys, one of CPAs by AICPA and the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler MBA program and the other by CFO magazine and Duke University, also show that finance executives plan to hire in 2011.

Write to Julie Steinberg

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