By Max Clarke

A worldwide shortage of skilled accountancy and finance professionals has been revealed in a survey, indicating a transition within the vital sector.

Financial leaders surveyed for the fifth annual Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor reported difficulties finding skilled staff and growing concern about their ability to hold on to their best employees.

Globally, two-thirds of respondents said it is either very or somewhat challenging today to find skilled accounting and finance professionals for certain jobs. Those surveyed also are more worried about keeping top performers than they were a year ago. Fifty-six per cent of financial leaders said they are at least somewhat concerned about retaining their staff in the coming year, up from 45% in 2010. UK executives are similarly concerned about the threat of losing top performers with 54% saying so in 2011, compared to 52% in 2010.

“It’s clear that the accounting and finance employment market is in a state of transition, with reported difficulties finding skilled staff and a growing concern among senior executives of how best to hold on to their star performers,” said Phil Sheridan, Managing Director of Robert Half UK. “Finding and retaining skilled professionals has become increasingly challenging, and candidate shortages are emerging in some specialist finance areas.”

The areas identified across the 19 countries as the hardest to recruit for are finance, accounting and operational support (e.g. accounts payable and payroll positions). Likewise in the UK, executives also indicate that finance roles are the hardest position to fill, followed by accounting and then audit.

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