Finance Executives Cite Recruiting Challenges, Growing Retention Concerns: Robert Half Global Study

Aug 18, 2011 | Corporate Member News

The accounting and finance employment market in many parts of the world may be in a state of transition, a new study suggests. Financial leaders surveyed for the fifth annual Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor reported difficulties finding skilled staff and growing concern about their ability to hold on to their best employees.

Globally, 67 per cent of respondents said it is either very or somewhat challenging today to find skilled accounting and finance professionals for certain jobs. Those surveyed also are more worried about keeping top performers than they were a year ago. Fifty-six per cent of financial leaders said they are at least somewhat concerned about retaining their staff in the coming year, up from 45 per cent in 2010 (

The Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor was developed by Robert Half International and is based on surveys conducted by independent research firms. The study, focusing on hiring difficulties, retention concerns and business confidence, includes responses from more than 6,000 financial leaders across 19 countries.

Key Findings 

–  Two-thirds, 67 per cent, of financial leaders reported at least some level of recruiting difficulty. Approximately one out of five (19 per cent) respondents said it is very challenging to find skilled accounting and finance professionals today.

–  Retention concerns are rising. Globally, 56 per cent of executives said they are either very or somewhat concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the year ahead. This is an 11-point jump from the 2010 survey.

–  In Canada, 41 per cent of executives cited worries about keeping their best people. This is up from 35 per cent in 2010.

–  Eighty-nine per cent of respondents reported being at least somewhat confident in their organisation’s growth prospects for the coming year. 

For additional information, view the research highlights (, as well as the data tables ( with the comprehensive results by country.

“Many firms are concerned about their ability to build and retain the accounting and finance teams they need to support the demands of the business,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Finding skilled professionals has become increasingly challenging, and candidate shortages are emerging in some regions and specialty areas.”

Recruiting Difficulties Surface

The majority of financial leaders surveyed noted recruiting difficulties. Sixty-seven per cent of respondents said it is either very or somewhat challenging to find skilled professionals today. In Brazil and Singapore, virtually all respondents (97 per cent in each country) reported hiring challenges. Ninety-five per cent of executives in Italy and 93 per cent in Hong Kong agreed.

The most severe shortage for a specific functional area was cited in Italy, where 45 per cent of respondents cited difficulties filling finance jobs (such as controller and financial analyst). In the Czech Republic, 42 per cent of executives said accounting roles (e.g., tax accountant and cost accountant) are the most challenging to staff. Globally, the areas identified as the hardest to recruit for are finance, accounting and operational support (e.g., accounts payable and payroll positions).

Retention Concerns Return

The number of financial leaders worried about employee retention is on the upswing. More than half of executives, 56 per cent, said they are very or somewhat concerned about losing valued employees to other opportunities in the coming year. This compares to 45 per cent who cited retention concerns in the 2010 survey.

In some countries, the results were much higher. The number of executives worried about keeping key employees is up 16 points in Singapore, for example; 91 per cent of respondents there said they see retention as an issue. In Hong Kong and Brazil, 88 per cent and 85 per cent of financial leaders, respectively, noted retention concerns.

Even in areas where a stronger recovery has yet to take hold, worries about keeping staff on board are on the rise. In Canada, 41 per cent of executives said they are at least somewhat concerned about losing key personnel, up 6 points from the previous year’s survey.

“As job opportunities expand for top performers, they are more likely to explore these career options, making staff retention a higher priority for businesses,” Messmer said. “Especially at smaller firms, the departure of even a single employee can result in lost skills and organisational knowledge that are difficult to replace.”

Finance Leaders Confident in Their Companies

Globally, 89 per cent of financial leaders said they are either very or somewhat assured of their firms’ ability to grow in the next 12 months. Respondents from Brazil are the most optimistic: 97 per cent of executives there cited confidence in their companies’ prospects.

About the Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor

The Global Financial Employment Monitor, based on the results of a survey developed by Robert Half International and conducted by independent research firms, includes responses from more than 6,000 financial executives and managers across 19 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The number of respondents varies by country and provides a representative sample of businesses in each. The results are within 95 per cent certainty, and the overall margin of error is approximately +/- 1.4 per cent.

For additional insights on accounting and finance employment trends in Canada, check out the quarterly Robert Half Financial Hiring Index ( The company also produces The Robert Half Professional Employment Report (, which is based on interviews with more than 1,000 Canadian executives from diverse fields on their professional-level hiring plans and general level of optimism for the upcoming quarter.

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 350 staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search services on its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at

For further information: Nadia Santoli, (416) 350-2330, [email protected]

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