UK finance departments shed jobs as downturn bites

UK finance professionals have been hit harder by the economic downturn than
counterparts in other leading financial centres, as companies lay off staff to
cut costs, according to a new survey.

Of UK executives working in the public and private sectors questioned by
recruitment consultant Robert Half, 45% of those who reported being affected
bythe downturn said that their organisation had made redundancies in their
accounting and finance departments during the past year.

That compares with 38% of US respondents, 28% of Japanese executives and 26%
of Swiss respondents, according to the survey of 4,830 finance, human resources
and senior executives in 21 countries.

Only four countries reported more redundancies in their finance departments
than the UK – Canada (50%), Australia (49%), Ireland (48%) and Hong Kong (46%).

UK respondents said that current economic conditions had resulted in
increased workloads (43%), greater stress (44%) and lower morale (35%) within
the accounting and finance department.

However, on a more upbeat note, more than half of UK executives questioned
said that they expected the economy to rebound by early next year or before.

Within the UK, the most sought-after attribute for finance executives is
experience and knowledge of the industry sector (65%), followed by expertise in
regulatory-compliance (47%) and public-company experience (34 %).

Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half, said: ‘While we are
currently in an “employers’ market”, with a sharp increase in the number of
individuals in the job market, when the upturn begins, those companies who
manage to both retain and further develop their talent during the recession will
be best placed to take advantage of new opportunities as soon as they emerge.’

According to Robert Half, it currently takes organisation an average of just
over seven weeks to fill a non-managerial position within accounting and f
inance departments in the UK.

UK respondents said the most difficult role to recruit was skilled financial

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