More than 80 percent of UAE finance executives will be recruiting in both the first quarter and first half of 2013, according to specialist financial recruiter Robert Half UAE.
Based on a survey of 75 chief financial officer and finance directors, first quarter hiring prospects will find 31 percent expanding their departments.
Another 52 percent said they will be maintaining levels by filling roles that have been vacated while only 12 percent of companies will be undergoing a hiring freeze in the first quarter and five percent will reduce headcount.
The Robert Half Financial Hiring Index found that Dubai-based financial leaders plan the most hiring activity in the first quarter with nearly four in 10 (37 percent) anticipating expanding their finance teams and 48 percent backfilling roles for vacated employees.
Abu Dhabi chiefs also said they remain optimistic, with 21 percent expanding and 59 percent maintaining headcount through to the end of March.
Despite increased hiring throughout the UAE, companies said they are struggling to find the requisite talent to manage key initiatives.
Nearly nine in 10 (87 percent) executives said they find it challenging to find skilled financial professionals with financial/management accounting topping the list of the functions most difficult to recruit.
Nearly 90 percent of executives said they are concerned about losing top performers, prompting many to issue counter-offers and/or increased salaries and bonuses.
James Sayer, director, Robert Half UAE said: "The downturn saw the finance function coming to the fore as companies were forced to review processes with the aim of improving efficiencies, finding cost savings and making strategic decisions to facilitate growth.
"As the economy gains momentum, finance professionals, now occupying a place at the decision-making table, will continue to be sought after to drive strategy, process improvement and compliance initiatives.
"With demand outweighing supply, many organisations find it challenging to attract and recruit the requisite talent and are turning to recruitment consultancies and expatriate recruitment to help fill the gap."
According to the survey, confidence levels among UAE executives continue to be strong with 81 percent confident about the country's growth prospects in the coming six months and 92 percent confident in their own company's prospects.
The latter score is up 12 points over H2 2012 levels and three points higher than the index one year ago.
Sayer added: "While some uncertainty exists in certain sectors, most finance leaders have taken the lessons learned during the downturn and are again turning their attention towards growth.
"They are confident in the prospects facing their company in the coming months and are hiring additional permanent staff to help manage rising workloads and growth initiatives."