Four trends shaping today’s financial hiring market

If you plan to recruit new staff this year, you should know what could affect your search for talent.

February 7, 2013
Sponsored by Robert Half International

Is recruiting on your agenda this year? If so, do you know all the factors that could affect your hiring process? The better prepared you are before you begin, the greater your odds of landing the talent you need.

The 2013 Salary Guide from Robert Half uncovered a number of key developments that could impact companies seeking accounting and finance professionals. Here are four you need to be aware of before launching a search for applicants:

1. Competition for candidates is growing

While two years ago you may have had no problem filling a vacancy, expect it to take more work today. Companies aren’t going gangbusters adding new positions, but many are hiring to some degree. Competition is growing for individuals with specialized skills, especially in fields such as accounting and finance.

Managers who wait too long to make a hiring decision after interviewing candidates often find they’ve lost their top choice to another job offer. Organizations are recognizing the importance of streamlining their evaluation processes—such as combining second interviews with additional staff into one day—to speed up decision making.

2. Businesses filling core jobs

Businesses are concentrating on hiring professionals who can support growth. Financial analysts, for example, are in very strong demand because of their ability to identify trends in accounting data that can inform planning efforts. Business systems analysts are also valued as companies look for ways to get more out of their financial systems.

Accountants are being recruited from staff to manager levels. Companies are especially interested in candidates with at least three years of experience and a CPA designation.

In public accounting, firms of all sizes are pursuing new lines of business and expanding practice areas. Audit and tax professionals are in high demand. Firms are also looking for individuals skilled in IT audit, business valuation, and forensic accounting. Hiring managers seek those with at least three to five years of experience, but entry-level recruiting is also growing.

3. Diverse skills in demand

When it comes to specific hiring criteria, managers not only want financial knowledge, but they also look for candidates with top-notch technology expertise. Microsoft Excel and Access proficiencies remain critical requirements. Small and midsize businesses value knowledge of software packages such as Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) and QuickBooks.

Employers also seek more advanced technical skills. For instance, they want applicants who can assist with upgrades of the most widely used enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems or software as a service (SaaS).

Additionally, companies expect candidates to have solid interpersonal abilities. They want financial professionals to be able to collaborate and communicate with people throughout an organization.

4. Pay is on a moderate rise

Base compensation for accounting and finance professionals is forecast to rise an average of 3.3% this year. Many positions will see even stronger gains. Among them:

  • Senior internal auditors: Starting salaries will rise 4.4% for those joining midsize companies ($25 million to $250 million in sales), to the range of $67,500 to $88,250.
  • Accountants: Those with one to three years of experience will earn $49,000 to $65,000 at large companies ($250 million+ in sales)—a 4.3% increase over 2012.
  • Financial analysts: Entry-level professionals will see a 3.9% rise in base compensation, to between $39,250 and $47,750.
  • Senior tax professionals: Starting salaries for senior managers/directors of tax services at large public accounting firms will increase 3.6%, to the range of $112,000 to $183,000.
  • Budget analysts: Those at the manager level will earn $64,000 to $85,750 at small companies (up to $25 million in sales), an increase of 3.5% from last year.

Starting salaries listed above are national averages and will vary depending on the geographic market.

Employers are adjusting their compensation packages to compete for candidates who meet all of their hiring criteria, however, as well as to retain their best employees. Top candidates are receiving better-than-average salary offers, while high-performing existing staff members are offered bonuses, advancement opportunities, training and development programs, and work-life balance to further their efforts.

For a complete picture of hiring conditions in accounting and finance, as well as a listing of salaries by position (and information to customize for your market), download a free copy of the 2013 Salary Guide at www.roberthalffinance.com/SalaryCenter.

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This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half International, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. Follow Robert Half on Twitter at twitter.com/roberthalf