CFOs cool on hiring, but they have advice for staff development

Domestic hiring projections are down from a year ago as cautious North American finance chiefs seem set to rely more on offshore personnel or outsourcing as a way to cut costs.

That’s one key takeaway from the latest Deloitte CFO Signals survey, which tracked sentiment during the second quarter. Finance chiefs cite cost reduction as their bosses’ top priority, and they project lower earnings growth compared with the second quarter of 2013.

A year ago, CFOs predicted approximately the same percentage increases for domestic hiring (2.4%), outsourced services (2.3%), and offshore personnel (2.5%). The projection for the next 12 months is a 1.6% rise in domestic hiring, the lowest second-quarter reading in the survey’s five years.

Talent costs were cited as an impediment to growth by 36% of CFOs surveyed, about twice the number who mentioned talent costs in the second quarter of 2013. Talent availability, however, declined as a concern. The most-cited impediment to growth was industry-specific regulation.

CFOs’ earnings projections fell from 10.3% in the second quarter of 2013 to 8.9%. Capital spending projections are also falling – from 11.4% in the second quarter of 2012, 7.5% last year, and 6.8% now.

Building a strong staff

CFOs were asked about how to build a strong finance staff. Their recommendations fell into the following three topics:

  • Executive leadership is critical. CFOs must set the vision, goals, standards, and culture that will define an organisation’s role and success factors.
  • Recruitment is vital. CFOs say hiring should go beyond talent mining and consider mindset and partnering abilities. They also say succession planning is important.
  • Development is the key to retention. Giving standout workers chances to learn new aspects of the business or learn new finance skills is worth the effort.

The survey used responses from 113 CFOs in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Seventy-one per cent are from public companies, and 81% work for companies with revenue greater than $1 billion.

Related CGMA Magazine content:

US Finance Professionals are Upbeat, But They Have Staffing Concerns”: Finance professionals continue to express optimism about the US economy and their own businesses, according to the latest quarterly economic outlook survey by the American Institute of CPAs.

Access to Talent a Rising Concern for CEOs Around the World”: Availability of key skills is the biggest threat to organisations’ growth, according to 63% of CEOs in a PwC survey. The report lists five priorities that can help CEOs and other stakeholders combat a lack of talent.

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.