CFOs more willing to negotiate pay, if they can find the right candidates

CFOs are upbeat about growth prospects and more willing now than a year ago to negotiate starting pay with skilled job candidates, but finance chiefs also report more struggles in finding properly qualified applicants.

That’s according to a new survey by global staffing firm Robert Half, which used the responses of more than 2,100 CFOs in 20 US cities. Forty-one per cent said they were more willing to negotiate salary with top job candidates now compared with 12 months ago. Forty-eight per cent said there was no change in willingness to negotiate starting salary, 9% said they were less willing to negotiate, and 2% said they did not know.

CFOs were also asked about the challenges they face in finding skilled candidates for professional-level jobs, a concern of companies around the world. In a UK survey last year, 87% of CFOs said they faced challenges finding skilled talent. In the Robert Half US survey, 68% said it was a challenge to find skilled candidates, up 5 percentage points from a year ago.

“Companies recognise they have growth opportunities in front of them, but many are struggling to find the skilled people they need to make that growth happen,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, said in a news release. “The hiring environment is very competitive. Employers must move quickly and efficiently through the hiring process, while still taking special care to not skip any steps along the way.”

With companies showing more willingness to hire and to negotiate salary, skilled workers are more likely to look for other work, seeking more pay and more responsibility. They are also more likely to ask their current bosses for a pay increase or promotion.

Most companies forecast growth

Most of the CFOs (93%) said they were at least somewhat confident in their company’s growth prospects for the next six months. That optimism is in line with 12-month company outlook in the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Business & Industry Economic Outlook. In that survey of CPA executives from November, availability of skilled personnel was considered a top challenge facing organisations, behind only regulatory requirements.

CFOs in five cities seemed to have particular difficulty finding talent, according to Robert Half. Those cities, and the percentage of CFOs in them who said it was either somewhat or very challenging to recruit skilled professional-level candidates, are:

  • Miami, 77%
  • Philadelphia, 74%
  • New York, 73%
  • Detroit, 72%
  • St. Louis, 72%

Related CGMA Magazine content:

Keeping the Talent Pipeline Flowing”: Fostering loyalty amongst early-career professionals is a key concern for businesses across the world. Matt Miller, ACMA, CGMA, explains how BAE Systems develops and retains high-calibre talent.

What Hiring Managers Should Ask Job Candidates”: Proper screening of job applicants is a vital skill today, with a global talent crunch and the potential to lose money by making a bad hire. Several finance professionals offer their tips on what hiring managers should ask to make better decisions.

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.