Finance and accounting professionals report feeling less confidence, resulting in a drop to 50.4 for a 2.2 point decline from the second quarter, according to The Mergis Group Finance and Accounting Employee Confidence Index.

 Despite the drop, this is 5.3 points higher than this time last year, the study finds. 

“Over the past two quarters we have seen a decline in the overall confidence levels of finance and accounting professionals,” says Steve McMahan, executive vice president of Randstad US, Professionals. “While the current reading is down from the multiyear high recorded in the first quarter, it is worth noting that confidence levels are still running five points higher than at this time last year. It is also noteworthy that this decline in sentiment is occurring alongside a simultaneous decline in the nation’s unemployment rate, suggesting the drop in confidence may be based less on actual economic performance and more on recent negative news coverage of economic conditions abroad, especially in Europe.

“Furthermore, as the housing market continues towards a path toward normalization and historically low interest rates, many financial lending institutions are looking to ramp up their end-of-year hiring efforts. In the month of September alone, more than 13,000 jobs were added in the financial services sector, with much of the growth in real estate and rental and leasing sub-sectors. It is highly likely that skilled mortgage originators, processors, underwriters, closers and loan modification specialists with advanced regulatory knowledge will likely be in high demand in the final months of 2012.”

While 40 percent of respondents say the economy is weakening, a two percentage-point increase from the second quarter, 15 percent of respondents say more jobs are open, a drop of six percentage points from the last quarter. Meanwhile, 53 percent of respondents say fewer jobs are on the market, which remains unchanged from the second quarter.

Another 38 percent of respondents say they are confident that they could find new jobs, marking a decline from 42 percent in second quarter, and 24 percent of respondents say they are not confident that they could find new positions. Twenty-six percent of respondents report that they are likely to look for new work opportunities in the next year while 58 percent say they are likely to stay in their current positions.