CFOs plan to hire more financial and accounting personnel in the second quarter for 2004, according to Robert Half International's Financial Hiring Index. According to the index, which queried 1,400 CFOs from U.S. companies with at least 20 employees, 7% of executives say they expect to add staff, while just 1% anticipate reductions in personnel. The net 6% increase in hiring activity is up four percentage points from the first-quarter estimate and represents the highest net increase projected by CFOs in the survey since the third quarter of 2001. Additionally, manufacturing executives project financial hiring activity above the national average. According to the survey, 8% of manufacturing executives forecast a hiring increase in the second quarter of 2004. "The net hiring increase has risen steadily for the past three quarters," says Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, Menlo Park, Calif. "Companies are still cautious in their approach to hiring, but many recognize additional accounting and finance personnel can help them address workloads postponed during the downturn. Other firms seek qualified assistance in effecting corporate governance reforms and ensuring more accurate financial reporting."