Almost two-thirds of companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are freezing finance jobs for the rest of 2013, according to recruiters.
The research shows 44% of chief finance officers will block recruitment, while 15% will keep staff numbers at current levels.
Just over a third of companies (37%) will take on new staff – a modest 2% increase from 2012.
The UAE is split with businesses in Dubai thinking more about expansion than their colleagues in Abu Dhabi.
Chief Finance Officers gave four main reasons for considering recruitment:
- 64% will only hire for new projects
- 57% will hire if their company offers a new product
- 32% will hire if they enter a new market
- 29% will hire if business increases
One of the brakes on hiring is a lack of talented accountants and other financial workers in the region.
Most firms reported a shortage of skilled workers a challenge, while 35% found recruiting talent a problem which they share with companies across the world.
The main roles companies want to fill include accountants, financial managers, business analysts and tax advisers.
“Skilled financial management is necessary for any business,” said a spokesman for Robert Half UAE, the recruit firm responsible for compiling the data.
“Businesses in the UAE want to drive forward and have growth and expansion plans to increase their share of domestic and international markets. These are frustrated by a shortage of finance and accounting professionals.”
Expat finance professionals are a valued commodity worldwide, says Robert Half.
Many countries are reporting a scarcity of talent, which is pushing up salary and remuneration packages in many regions.
In Hong Kong, nine out of 10 companies report concerns about rivals in the region and further afield poaching their top performers.
Neil Owen, global practice director, Robert Half Financial Services said: “While many financial institutions are cutting staff, companies are finding they need more business, finance and accounting professionals to maintain growth and to benefit from new opportunities.
“We have found this problem is not just linked to the UAE and Hong Kong, but is a worldwide phenomenon that covers every continent, from Canada and the US across the world to Hong Kong.”
Other countries experiencing the same problems include Singapore – with 93% of firms reporting hiring finance professionals was a challenge – Germany and Britain (91%), Canada (90%), USA (84%) and France (82%).