More than a third of Midlands-based companies are too lean to take advantage of what they see as improving trading conditions, a new study has claimed.
Chief finance officers (CFOs) in the region are becoming more optimistic about the prospects for both the British economy and their own companies according to the latest Robert Half CFO Confidence Index. However, despite this, companies specifically based in the Midlands are reluctant to start hiring again, with more than a third (38 per cent) feeling that their teams do not have enough staff to be able to take advantage of the eventual upturn.
The bi-annual index by the specialist recruitment firm, reveals that 31 per cent of CFOs based in the Midlands are more or slightly more confident about the prospects for the economy over the next six months, and 27 per cent felt the same level of confidence about their own company’s future.
This is a significant change from the last index released in January this year in which practically all of the Midlands’ finance directors were pessimistic about the economy.
Overall, the index revealed that whilst the majority of Midlands-based CFOs do not intend to hire more permanent finance and accounting staff over the next six months, an encouraging 16 per cent expected headcount to increase. Rising workloads were cited as the main reason for increasing head count, together with business growth or expansion.
The survey also indicated that job losses were slowing with 18 per cent of CFOs from the Midlands stating that they may need to make further cuts in employee numbers, compared to 44 per cent six months ago.
Commenting on the findings, Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half UK, said: “Our index shows that finance directors in the Midlands are looking ahead with a more positive outlook to the economic recovery. However, it is a fragile optimism and CFOs will want to see further signs of recovery before they add to their permanent headcount.
“Those that succeed will be the ones that recognise a balance between short-term caution and the need to look ahead and make sure that they have the right resources in place to take advantage of future growth. One risk free option open to CFOs is to hire interim staff to ensure that they have the right teams without taking on a permanent hire.”