A shortage of experienced accounting and finance professionals is affecting employers around the world, according to a new survey.

Fifty-six percent of the more than 4,000 financial and human resources managers in 20 countries surveyed by recruiter Robert Half International reported difficulty finding skilled job candidates. This was the second year in a row that more than half the respondents to the survey reported hiring difficulties.

Retention concerns have risen significantly in the past year. Fifty-eight percent of respondents worldwide and 73 percent of respondents in the U.S. expressed concerns about losing top performers to other job opportunities, up from 43 percent and 46 percent, respectively, in 2007.

Hiring managers surveyed in the U.S. said industry knowledge and experience were the most important attributes, a trend reported in 16 of 20 countries surveyed. In last year's report, regulatory compliance expertise was the leading response.

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