SINGAPORE- The job market for finance and accounting professionals might be optimistic this year, recruitment firm Robert Half said today.
In a survey of 300 Chief financial officers (CFOs) and finance directors here, Robert Half found that business leaders were confident about their business prospects in 2013.
Of the respondents in the survey, 150 were from the Banking and Financial Services sector, and another 150 were from the Commerce and Industry sector.
As much as 78 per cent of CFOs in commerce and industry said they are positive about Singapore's economic prospects, and 89 per cent are optimistic about their company's fortunes.
Among the Banking and Financial Services group, 83 per cent said they are confident about Singapore's economic future, while 85 per cent feel positive about their company's prospects.
This confidence has been reflected in a strong start to hiring, with 31 per cent of CFOs and finance directors in commerce and industry planning to add new permanent finance and accounting staff in Q1 of 2013.
Another 56 per cent said they would be maintaining their current headcount.
Only nine per cent are freezing all new hires, and four per cent are forecasting a reduction in headcount.
In the banking and finance services sector, 33 per cent said that they plan to add new permanent staff in the first three months of 2013, with a further 50 per cent maintaining current levels.
Only 11 per cent are freezing all new hires while six per cent are looking to reduce headcount.
Ms Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore, said: "As we enter 2013, companies are still optimistic about their prospects, and many are cautiously adding additional headcount. Companies may also be looking to improve productivity to get more from their existing workforce."
"If the global economic climate improves, then companies will very quickly enter the employment market to make new hires to boost capacity," she added.
She also said that CFOs need to continuously invest in recruitment and retention programmes to ensure that they do not lose existing staff to other opportunities or miss out on top talent.
The survey also revealed that losing finance, accounting and banking staff to other opportunities is a serious concern for Singapore companies in 2013.
A majority (86 per cent) of CFOs in commerce and industry and almost all (92 per cent) senior business leaders in banking and financial services said they are concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities.
CFOs also find it challenging to hire professionals with the right skill sets.
This situation is further complicated as staff might not be retained by pay raises in 2013.
"The continued confidence in the market is putting finance and accounting talent with the right skills in a strong position to move to more attractive opportunities," Ms Tang warned.
Employers should not only focus on salary packages when trying to retain their workers, she said.
Other factors which affect the employee's decision to stay or leave include having a clear career path, flexible work arrangements and the opportunity to work with a mentor and in an environment where the employee can play a significant role in executing business strategy.