Australian CFOs bullish on economic growth, hiring


By Sabine Vollmer

Australia’s CFOs, confident their country’s economy will continue to grow, plan to hire accounting and finance professionals in the second half of the year, according to a survey by staffing firm Robert Half International.

The euro-zone crisis and economic slowdown in China had many Australian companies worried in the first half of the year, Kevin Jarvis, a Robert Half director, said in a statement. But of about 300 Australian CFOs surveyed by Robert Half, 52% plan to increase finance and accounting staff. Ten per cent said they planned to decrease hiring activity. During the first half of the year, 32% of finance decision-makers planned to increase finance and accounting staff, while 12% planned to decrease staff.

Highlights from the most recent survey include:

  • Hiring projections were particularly strong in Western Australia, where a mining boom continues to lift the economic prospects of the entire country.

  • Eighty-two per cent of the CFOs said they have confidence in Australia’s economic growth prospects, and 85% had at least some confidence in their business’s growth prospects.

  • Most CFOs said their companies plan to hire because of business growth (49%) and rising workloads (31%).

“Many finance leaders are taking a longer-term view and expect their finance and accounting teams to grow in the next six months,” Jarvis said. “Consideration for what they will need to be successful in the new fiscal year, coupled with the need for finance and accounting professionals who can help control costs and identify revenue opportunities, may be leading to some of the anticipated hiring.”

The bullish projections come as the Australian national government projects to post a tiny budget surplus for the 2013 fiscal year that began July 1st. Though fluctuations in commodity prices could affect that projection, the prospects of a surplus stand in sharp contrast to the fiscal woes in which much of the euro zone is mired. Whether the government succeeds in posting a surplus or slightly fails “is not the point,” according to a report from the National Australia Bank. “Rather it highlights that the Australian fiscal position is radically different to most other developed economies.”

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Sabine Vollmer (svollmer@aicpa.org) is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.

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