Accounting and Finance Job Opportunities in Greater Demand Due to Slowing Economy : Australian Companies Unable to Fill Accounting and Finance Job Opportunities, According to Research Conducted by Employment Agency, Robert Half

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Demand in Australia for highly skilled professionals to fill accounting and finance job opportunities has intensified as companies seek to cut costs in the slowing economy, says international employment agency Robert Half.

On a global level, Australia is competing with demand from developing nations such as India and China. On a local level, pressure for enhanced financial reporting standards means both corporate and small businesses have increased their accounting needs. In addition, supply shortages from Australia's educational system means the pipeline is not matching business growth

Australia's acute shortage of accounting and finance professionals is on par with a global shortage with 54 per cent of Australian companies reporting difficulty in attracting the right mix of talent and experience against a global score of 56 per cent, reports The Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor for 2008-2009.

"Accounting and finance are core business functions vital to an organisation's success in any economy. Australia is now experiencing a growing need for these professionals as firms seek to identify cost efficiencies and control expenses," says Nigel Barcham, Managing Director of Robert Half Australia & New Zealand.

"Demand will seriously continue to outpace supply, especially in highly sought specialties such as accounting, finance management and financial and business analysis roles," Mr Barcham said.

"Industry knowledge and experience are the key attributes sought for executive-level hires in Australia at the moment. This is an interesting shift from last year, when regulatory compliance was the leading requirement."

Retention concerns have also risen significantly in the last year. This survey shows 62 per cent of Australian companies are concerned about losing their top performing talent to other accounting and finance job opportunities, a notable increase from last year's 50 per cent.

"Strong competition and ability to attract and retain the best talent are growing concerns for Australian businesses and has the capacity to stymie growth plans," said Mr Barcham.

Australia ranked eighth hardest hit in hiring challenges globally in the 20-country survey.

Additional Australian highlights of the Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor for 2008-2009 – key Australian highlights are:

Australia is experiencing the greatest shortages in accounting, finance management, credit control including tax and treasury, financial and business analysis. 67 per cent of companies cited industry knowledge and experience as the most sought-after attributes of executive-level job hires. This is a marked change from last year, in which regulatory compliance expertise was the leading response at 68 per cent. Significant resources are being expended to get it right with more than a third (39%) assessing performance on a temporary basis before making a permanent employment hire. Interviews and reference checks were also rated highly in making hires (22% respectively). However, the resume and cover letter though essential scored the least. In an effort to increase the likelihood of a successful hire, more follow-up with candidates is being performed before a final hiring decision is made, with an average of three interviews for both management and staff level hires. Staff level interviews have increased from two in 2007. It takes 5.5 weeks to hire an entry-level position and 6.5 weeks to hire a management level position. Corporate Australia has increased reliance on temporary or project professionals with 30 percent saying they have increased their use today compared with three years ago. 23 per cent said they were more likely to hire senior level project professionals compared to three years ago. The global study was developed by Robert Half International, the world's first and largest staffing services firm specialising in accounting and finance, and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey included responses from more than 4000 finance and human resources managers in 20 countries. A total of 273 respondents were interviewed in Australia.

Retention within this sector has also been identified as a fundamental issue by Australia's largest accountancy body CPA Australia.

Notwithstanding the slowing economy and the aging population, this sector is dealing with a myriad of issues, says, Mr Barcham.

"On a global level, Australia is competing with demand from developing nations such as India and China. On a local level, pressure for enhanced financial reporting standards means both corporate and small businesses have increased their accounting needs. In addition, supply shortages from Australia's educational system means the pipeline is not matching business growth," he said.

"Interestingly, Australian companies are now placing less emphasis on regulatory compliance and are focusing instead on their overall competitive performance.

"Hiring and retaining skilled personnel will only become more difficult in the future – employers need to enhance their recruitment and retention efforts now. In addition to offering competitive compensation, businesses will need to provide perks that help employees advance their careers while balancing their work and personal objectives."

About Robert Half

Robert Half International Inc. (RHI) pioneered specialised staffing services and today is the world's leader in the field. Founded in 1948, the company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol:RHI) and operates four separate divisions in Australia, each serving distinct markets. They include: Robert Half Finance & Accounting, for temporary and permanent finance and accounting personnel; Robert Half Financial Services Group, for high-calibre finance and banking professionals; Robert Half Management Resources, for specialised interim financial professionals and OfficeTeam, for highly skilled temporary administrative support. There are more than 360 Robert Half International locations in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and South America.

Links

Robert Half Australia

http://www.roberthalf.com.au/

Robert Half News and Events http://www.roberthalf.com.au/Site/showpage.jsp?p=EVENT_YEARLIST&s=RHF_ AUS

Global Financial Salary Guide 2008

http://www.roberthalf.com.au/site/showpage.jsp?s=RHF_AUS&p=EVENT_ DETAIL&evid=393&banner=GFSG_AUS

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