Singapore's CFOs Optimistic, Look Set to Expand Their Teams

There’s good news for finance and accounting professionals seeking greener pastures this year in Singapore. CFOs in the country are keen to hire, particularly during the first half of this year, according to research released by Robert Half Singapore.
The research was based on a global poll of 2,350 CFOs, including 150 from Singapore. Results from the survey showed 96% of Singapore CFOs expect their companies to experience growth this year.
Hiring freezes are definitely not on the cards – 53% of Singapore CFOs surveyed indicated they will replace staff that leave, with just 2% of companies indicating a desire to freeze headcount. There’s more news – Singapore is one of only three markets, alongside Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates, where not a single company surveyed indicated plans to reduce headcount in the first half of this year.
Yes, We’re Hiring 
Source: Robert Half Singapore
Research results showed that 45% of Singapore companies polled intend to hire more finance and accounting professionals in the first half of 2014, making Singapore the fourth most active hiring market globally for accounting and finance professionals after China (69%), Brazil (63%) and Hong Kong (48%).
Compared with 2013, the 45% of companies in Singapore that intend to beef up their finance team this year represents a higher proportion (38% said the same in 2013).
Most Active Hiring Markets 
 Source: Robert Half Singapore
SMEs leading the charge
While large companies have traditionally taken up the lion’s share of the hiring market, 2014 looks sets to be the year for SMEs. Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore, says SMEs with fewer than 1,000 employers will be the most active hirers this year.
The Robert Half survey showed 48% of small companies and 46% of medium-sized companies plan to hire this year, compared with 31% of large firms.
Hiring Intentions by Company Size and Business Type
Source: Robert Half Singapore
“Many small to mid-sized firms are confidents about their prospects this year and are comfortable with increasing their employee numbers,” said Tang, adding demand for finance and accounting professionals is also being driven by higher standards of corporate governance. Tang foresees particular demand for professionals with internal audit, tax and regulatory skills.
Hot sectors
The fast moving consumer goods, energy, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and real estate sectors are expected to be the industries in Singapore that will create the greatest number of finance and accounting jobs this year.
“To enhance their employability, having a recognised professional designation is key for accountants, as employers are looking for qualified professionals with the right credentials. In the rapidly changing business landscape, accounting professionals must continuously keep up with new skills and new knowledge,” said president of ISCA Ernest Kan.
The most popular and sought-after qualifications include CA, CPA and ACCA.
The race to attract and retain quality talent goes on, with 55% of CFOs anticipating increasing salaries for their finance and accounting professionals in 2014. In addition, 37% of businesses intend to increase bonuses this year.
Robert Half lists internal audit and tax as functions that will see high demand in the coming year:
Internal Audit:  A greater focus on corporate governance has seen many companies strengthening their internal controls and oversight functions, resulting in increased demand for auditors. Auditors can expect annual salaries of up to S$110,000, while managers can expect up to S$200,000.
Director level positions in large firms can draw up to S$290,000. Professionals in internal audit can expect a year-on-year increase of up to 9%.  
Tax:  Analysts can expect salaries of up to S$100,000 per year while managers can draw up to S$225,000. Directors can expect up to S$360,000. Tax professionals can look forward to a year-on-year increase of up to 9%.  

While most mid-range accounting professionals will be happy with a 3% or 4% incremental increase, tax specialists can expect to do much better with increases of 7% or more. Tax professionals need to have a total command of the tax systems in multiple jurisdictions. 


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