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Robert Half: Demand for finance and accounting skills rising

New Robert Half Financial Employment Report finds financial/management accounting and accounts payable/receivable skills are most in demand

Demand for finance and accounting professionals is set to rise in Australia in 2013 as sentiment surrounding the state of the economy improves, a new report claims. According to Robert Half’s quarterly Financial Employment Report, 33 per cent of finance executives plan to increase headcount in the first few months of this year, while 44 per cent intend to maintain current staff levels. Just five per cent expect their finance and accounting team to shrink.

Those from the mining sector appeared the most bullish, with 42 per cent citing plans to add more personnel. In contrast, 27 per cent in the financial services sector plan to expand headcount this year. The report found financial services companies are more likely to reduce positions than those in other industries.

Skills shortages remain a major hurdle for CFOs, Robert Half claimed, pointing out 86 per cent of respondents found it challenging to find skilled financial professionals. Top of the list of skills in demand are financial/management accounting and accounts payable/receivable (both 11 per cent), followed by accountancy, tax and treasury, and business/financial analysis.

The Robert Half Financial Employment Report is based on a survey of 300 Australian CFOs and finance directors across multiple industry sectors, along with responses from an additional 100 financial services executives. The most recent quarterly survey was undertaken late last year.

Robert Half Asia-Pacific MD, David Jones, said the finance and accounting professionals job market is stabilising and noted greater alignment across Western Australia and Queensland with the rest of Australia. He claimed such normalisation increases pressure on employers to rethink their retention and talent acquisition strategies as professionals will feel more confident making a move in a stable market.

“As choice increases for qualified candidates, companies intending to recruit and retain talent need to ensure they have skilled managers on the front line and that they are considering the right incentives, including non-financial factors such as skill development and career progression,” he advised.

The recruitment firm’s research also illustrated sentiment about the Australian economy and business growth prospects is stronger than that recorded in the second half of 2012. Within commerce and industry, 88 per cent of finance executives expressed confidence about their own company’s growth prospects, and one third of them reported to be ‘very confident’.

In the mining sector, 67 per cent of respondents feel ‘very confident’ about their employer’s future, while 69 per cent in financial services expressed some level of confidence in their own company and just 13 per cent are ‘very confident’.

“While the majority of Australia’s senior finance professionals feel confident about their company’s economic prospects, we still see evidence of the two-speed economy, with particular strength in the mining industry and weaknesses in financial services,” Jones commented.

Follow CFO World Australia on Twitter: @CFOworld_AU, or take part in the CFO World conversation on LinkedIn: CFO World.

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