Finance and accounting executives plan to grow teams; skilled roles prove hard to fill

Mon, 05/26/2014

Business leaders on both sides of the Tasman are optimistic of achieving growth in 2014; though 94% of CFOs in Australia and 78% in New Zealand say finding quality finance and accounting professionals remains challenging, according to the 2014 Salary Guide released today by specialist recruitment firm, Robert Half.

Key findings:
• 93% of CFOs in Australia are confident of their company’s growth prospects for the year ahead; 84% in New Zealand.
• 94% of CFOs in Australia (78% in New Zealand) say it is challenging to recruit quality finance and accounting professionals.
• 92% of CFOs in Australia (78% in New Zealand) are concerned about losing top finance and accounting talent this year.

Sydney, 26 March 2014 – A survey of 300 Australian and 100 New Zealand Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) found 93% of business leaders in Australia (84% in New Zealand) are confident about their country’s economic prospects for the year ahead.

Nine out of ten (93%) CFOs in Australia (82% in New Zealand) expect their business to grow in 2014. This translates to a strong outlook for finance and accounting professionals, with one in three firms planning to expand their team. However, cost constraints are putting a cap on recruitment drives; 81% of Australian CFOs, and 72% in New Zealand say they would increase their finance and accounting headcount if budgets permitted.

David Jones, Managing Director of Robert Half Asia-Pacific says, “It is positive to see such high levels of optimism among business leaders but firms also face the headwind of regulatory change. Hiring and retaining outstanding finance and accounting professionals is critical in making future plans of growth and expansion a reality”.

The 2014 Salary Guide indicates that sourcing good talent remains a challenge; 94% of Australian CFOs and 78% in New Zealand say it is difficult to recruit top finance and accounting professionals. In particular, the roles that are hardest to fill include:
• Accountant (26% in Australia; 37% in New Zealand)
• Financial Manager/Controller (24% in Australia; 26% in New Zealand)
• Business/Financial Analyst (24% in Australia; 24% in New Zealand)

Research shows that candidates who possess industry specialisations are considered more desirable among employers.

“As always, the Chartered Accountant (CA) and Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) qualifications are highly sought after. However, employers are increasingly seeking finance and accounting professionals who can add value through business analysis and communication skills, rather than simply being a ‘numbers person’”, said David Jones.

One of the biggest concerns for business leaders is losing top finance and accounting talent (92% in Australia; 78% in New Zealand). According to Jones, it’s not just finding the right people for the role but also keeping them, and companies need to carefully evaluate what they can offer their employees.

In the current hiring market, a competitive remuneration mix is just one solution for staff retention. This year, the majority of firms in Australia (55%) and New Zealand (60%) plan to increase the salaries of their finance and accounting teams in 2014, and one in three businesses are looking to increase bonuses (37% in Australia; 31% in New Zealand).

“Securing, and retaining top talent is a key factor underpinning the success of any business – large or small, public sector or private”, concludes David Jones.

The 2014 Robert Half Salary Guide provides comprehensive analysis of current and future hiring trends including salary benchmarks.

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Gabrielle Nagy 
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7751
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