Singapore's CFOs confidence high

20 February 2013


Losing staff to other opportunities a serious concern in 2013

[Singapore]  February 05, 2013:  Singapore’s CFOs and finance directors are confident of the growth prospects of their businesses in 2013, which is good news for the job prospects of finance and accounting professionals, according to research released today by specialist finance and accounting recruitment firm, Robert Half, in its latest Financial Employment Report.

The Financial Employment Report is based on a survey of 300 Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and finance directors in Singapore – 150 from the Banking and Financial Services sector, and another 150 from the Commerce and Industry sector1.

According to the survey, 78 per cent of CFOs in Commerce and Industry are positive about Singapore’s economic prospects, and a high 89 per cent are optimistic about their company’s fortunes. Among the Banking and Financial Services group, 83 per cent of senior business leaders are confident about Singapore’s economic future, while 85 per cent feel positive about their company’s prospects.

This confidence is reflected in a strong start to hiring in early 2013 with 31 per cent of CFOs and finance directors in Commerce and Industry planning to add new permanent finance and accounting staff in the first quarter of 2013, while 56 per cent will 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 Financial Services sector, 33 per cent of companies plan to add new permanent staff in the first three months of 2013, with a further 50 per cent maintaining current levels. Another 11 per cent are freezing all new hires while six per cent are looking to reduce headcount.   

Hiring projections in Singapore for the first quarter of 2013

Banking & Financial Services
Expanding headcount 33%
Maintaining headcount 50%
Freezing headcount 11%
Reducing headcount 6%


Commerce & Industry
Expanding headcount 31%
Maintaining headcount 56%
Freezing headcount 9%
Reducing headcount 4%

Source: 150 senior Financial Services leaders, and 150 CFOs and finance directors in Singapore

Ms Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore said, “We have been through a period where many jobs that were cut during the financial crisis have been reinstated, and positions were created in response to business growth.”

“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.”

“The fact that a third of companies are actively hiring means that CFOs and senior business leaders cannot afford to rest on their laurels. Even those who are planning to maintain headcount over the next few months 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,” Ms Tang advised. 

Finance bosses worried about employee retention

The survey also revealed that losing finance, accounting and banking staff to other opportunities is a serious concern for Singapore companies in 2013.  

The survey found 86 per cent of CFOs in Commerce and Industry and 92 per cent of senior business leaders in Banking and Financial Services are concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the next year. Furthermore, 87 per cent of Commerce and Industry CFOs and 94 percent of Financial Services leaders are finding it challenging to find and hire professionals with the right skill sets.

Ms Tang cautioned that increasing pay in 2013 may not guarantee the retention of top staff in the long term.

“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. To help improve loyalty, employers need to remember there are other motivators beyond a good salary. For example, offering a clear career path, flexible work arrangements, the opportunity to work with a mentor, and in an environment where the employee can play a significant role in executing business strategy,” she said.

1 Includes: Agriculture, Business services, Construction, Entertainment, Healthcare, Hotels or restaurants, Information technology, Legal, Manufacturing, Marketing, Media, Property services, Retail or wholesale, Telecoms, Transport, distribution or logistics, Other public sector (local government/civil service)


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Gabrielle Nagy 
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7751
E: [email protected]

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