Nearly four in 10 UAE companies plan to increase financial headcount in the next six months

The Robert Half Professional Hiring Index provides strategic insight into the UAE hiring market

  • Dubai-based organisations anticipate the strongest hiring
  • New projects and business expansion prompting recruitment plans
  • Financial leaders challenged in recruiting and retaining top financial talent

Dubai, 15 July 2013 – Nearly four in 10 (37%) UAE chief financial officers (CFOs) will be expanding their finance departments in the second half of 2013 compared to 35% in the first six months, finds new research from the specialist financial recruiter, Robert Half UAE. A further 15% will be maintaining existing headcount levels and only 4% will be eliminating positions. Forty-four per cent of companies will be freezing hiring – not filling vacating positions nor creating new ones – which is up from 12% six months ago.

Based on a survey of 75 chief financial officers (CFOs) and finance directors (FDs), the Robert Half Professional Hiring Index1 (the ‘Index’) finds that Dubai-based financial leaders are most bullish about their hiring plans with more than half (53%) anticipating the expansion of their finance teams compared to 22% in Abu Dhabi.

75 CFOs/FDs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were asked, “What are your company's hiring plans for permanent accounting and finance professionals in the second half of 2013?” Their responses:




Abu Dhabi

Expanding – adding new positions




Maintaining – only filling vacated positions




Freezing – not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones




Reducing – eliminating positions











When asked what initiatives were driving hiring, more than six in 10 (64%) CFOs cited new projects and initiatives, followed by product or service expansion (57%). One in three (32%) will be entering new markets and 29% claim that business growth or expansion in both international and domestic markets, respectively, was prompting additional permanent hiring within the finance and accounting function.

Companies continue to struggle in finding skilled financial professionals, with more than half (51%) saying is it ‘somewhat challenging’ and 35% saying it is ‘very challenging’ to do so. The areas posing the greatest challenges include specialists in financial management/control (28%), accounting (27%), accounts payable/receivable (24%), tax & treasury (24%) and business/financial analysis (21%). As a result, nearly nine in 10 (87%) finance leaders are concerned about losing top performers, prompting many organisations to consider their retention strategies to keep their best and brightest on board.

James Sayer, director, Robert Half UAE said: “Strong, prudent financial management is essential in any economy, but particularly during a time when companies are focused on driving new initiatives, growth and expansion plans to gain market share. Executives looking to increase headcount to take advantage of the upswing are finding that talent shortages exist within finance and accounting. Many are therefore turning to specialised recruiters to source the hard-to-find skill sets they require.”

Finance executives remain confident about the economic prospects facing the UAE, with 72% expressing confidence, including one in five (20%) who are ‘very confident’. A further 77% are confident in the business outlook facing their companies in the latter half of the year.

Sayer continues: “Economic confidence is prompting organisations to focus on growth and many are turning to their finance departments to not only crunch the numbers but also devise strategy on  finding new sources of revenue generation. Commercially-savvy accountants who can provide financial principles to operations, IT, sales and marketing departments are well positioned to help steer their organisations towards greater economic prosperity.”


Notes to editors

The bi-annual Robert Half Professional Hiring Index was developed by Robert Half UAE and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on 75 interviews with senior finance executives from companies located in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The international survey includes responses from 2,179 finance executives across Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Global statistics are available upon request.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 345 offices worldwide providing permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, human resources and legal professionals. Consistently featuring on Fortune Magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at