Employing good people is a company’s best line of defence against the competition, a recent survey of chief financial officers (CFOs) suggests.

More than half (55 per cent) of executives interviewed said that having solid leadership and hiring outstanding talent are the best ways to protect against threats from rival firms. State-of-the-art technology is also viewed as a significant advantage, cited by 24 per cent of respondents.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the world’s first and largest specialized financial recruitment service. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with more than 1,400 CFOs.

CFOs were asked, “Which one of the following will best protect companies from competitive threats in the next three years?” The top three responses:

Strong company leadership: 28 per cent

A focus on hiring the best people: 27 per cent Up-to-date technology: 24 per cent “In any economy, an organization’s most valuable asset is its people, but this is even more true in uncertain times when a company’s survival may depend on strong leadership and maintaining high customer service levels,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International.

“Companies must be able to quickly shift gears to take advantage of new opportunities, which requires clear vision and capable staff.”

Messmer noted, “With outstanding performers now in the job market, companies have access to professionals who would not have been available one year ago. Even though managers are closely watching budgets, it makes sense to hire people who can help the company enhance its depth of skills and expertise and grow now and in the future.”

Keeping current with technology also remains critical for companies to maintain a competitive edge, according to Messmer.