Among finance executives interviewed for , 12% said they were anticipating adding full-time accounting and finance employees, with 7% expecting reductions. The net 5% positive reading is up four points from the third-quarter study, Half said, and amounts to the highest projection in three years.
CFO optimism also was strong, 55% of respondents saying they are very confident in their overall outlook for their companies, with 36% being somewhat confident -- for a 91% confidence-vs.-lack-of-confidence report.
The 19-year-old index is conducted by an independent research firm for Half, the financial staffing and management services company. It is based on 1,400 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sampling of U.S. companies that have 20 or more employees.
"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," Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, said in a press release. "Businesses also are adding staff in response to voluntary turnover as more employees are attracted by offers from other companies."
Measured by region, Half's west-south-central area appeared to be most geared up for financial hiring in Q4, with 19% of executives saying they plan to add accounting and finance employees, either part-time or full-time. Staff reductions are planned by 4%, for a net gain of 15%.