Australia’s finance directors are hiring again

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Finance executives at some of Australia’s largest companies plan to invest more in their businesses and take on more staff this year.

The findings are from the latest American Express/CFO Research Global Business and Spending Monitor, an annual survey exploring attitudes and sentiment of senior finance executives from companies with revenues of more than $US500 million.

Other surveys show the finance industry in Australia still has openings for specialist jobs. The 17th annual Global Salary Survey by specialist recruitment firm Robert Walters indicates key roles in risk, compliance and audit are in high demand.

According to the American Express/CFO Research Global Business and Spending Monitor, 64% of CFOs expect economic expansion in Australia over the next 12 months.

And most (81%) say that this has given them the confidence to increase investment, with 19% at aggressive levels.

More than one third (36%) say their company’s level of spending and investment will increase by more than 15% this year.

Last year big business applied the brakes to spending. Australia had the second most reluctant market in the Asia Pacific region to aggressively invest behind Hong Kong.

“This year, it’s a different story,” says American Express director Robert Gunning.

“CFOs from big business are realising that to remain competitive with other companies, enter new markets and better meet their customers’ needs, they need to relax their corporate purse strings and they’re doing just that.”

The survey showed spending on headcount would be at greater levels this year for about 30% of respondents. Only 19% said they’d decrease their investment, with the remainder reporting flat spending.

“Big business is willing to pull out all stops to attract the best talent,” says Gunning.

One third of CFOs say they’re willing to offer flexible work schedules and an improved working environment to recruit the right people.

The ninth annual American Express/CFO Global Business and Spending Monitor surveyed 565 senior finance executives were surveyed at companies with annual revenues of $500 million in the US, Europe, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Australia. Of those, 33 are based in Australia.