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Finance Chiefs Still Struggling to Hire Skilled Personnel

Acquiring qualified workers in a tight labor market, relying more on recruitment firms to assist in the process, and spending additional money retaining consultants equipped to tackle special projects have been some of the concerns facing chief financial officers in recent years. CFOs have found it particularly difficult to find qualified applicants with both financial- and data-management experience.

One-third of U.S. financial executives and 26% of Canadian financial executives said their firms are staffed appropriately to manage unexpected projects, the study said.

Across industries, company executives have cited hiring concerns on earnings calls so far this year. The trucking industry, for example, which has been dealing with an oversupply of big rigs and weakening demand, is no stranger to recruitment challenges.

James Reed, chief executive of USA Truck Inc., a Van Buren, Ark.-based trucking company, said the cost of recruiting and retaining drivers helped weigh down the trucking division’s adjusted operating ratio by 150 basis points to 98.6% for the second quarter.

“Cost is a pressure in this business as driver pay is up over $2 million in the quarter year-over-year,” Mr. Reed said during an earnings call last week. “This is not going away as driver recruiting and retention is critical to our success, and competitive driver pay is a key contributing factor in that calculus.”

Relying on in-house recruiting rather than hiring recruiting firms has helped companies keep costs down, some CFOs said. Companies hastily deciding on a new hire, however, might prove even pricier.

“Sometimes people rush to judgment in terms of bringing in new resources, particularly if they’re trying to be transformative in the organization, and end up hiring the wrong person for a task and replacing them later, which becomes quite expensive,” said Tracie Ahern, CFO of New York-based asset manager PineBridge Investments.

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