Most FTSE 100 chiefs have finance background

More than half of the chief executive officers (CEOs) on the UK’s FTSE 100 list have a background in finance while almost a quarter are qualified chartered accountants, according to research. Backgrounds in tech, hospitality or retail and engineering or natural sciences are less common among leaders on the list, however, representing 14%, 21% and 15% respectively.

The report from recruitment consultancy Robert Half claims that the average tenure of a FTSE 100 CEO is currently five years and three months, although the record stands at more than 30 years. There’s a fair amount of fresh faces on the list, with 19% of CEOs taking up posts in the past 12 months and nine of those coming in as new leaders. That includes Mike Wells replacing Tidjane Thiam at insurer Prudential and James Edward Staley who took over at Barclays.

New faces on the list include just one woman, however, with Alison Brittain picking up the reins at hotels and restaurants operator Whitbread and taking the number of female CEOs on the FTSE 100 CEO list to six. Some 60% of people on the list are British citizens, but 20 different nationalities are represented.

Again perhaps unsurprisingly, a degree from the universities of Oxford or Cambridge is a key theme among leaders on the list, with 18% hailing from an Oxbridge education – although that number is down 1% from a year earlier. More than a quarter (28%) of those on the list have an MBA or PHD, down 4% year on year. Meanwhile 10 new companies joined the list, including satellite firm Inmarsat, payments giant Worldpay, publishing and events firm Informa and online betting company Paddy Power.

In terms of paths to the top, unsurprisingly, the favoured route to CEO is from a senior position in the same industry. The report claims that 66% of company leaders took their position after working in the same industry segment.

“Executives within every sector are seeking ways to continue meeting their own business goals in the face of external influences including growing regulatory frameworks and geopolitical uncertainty. As the leaders of Britain’s largest and most successful businesses, the individuals heading up these organisations can collectively influence the direction, confidence and economic prosperity of the wider UK economy,” state the authors.

“In these increasingly complex global operating environments, leaders who are able to traverse the commercial landscape while maintaining strong fiscal responsibility are in greatest demand. This trend is supported by this year’s findings where  experience within a single industry combined with a foundation in finance is what organisations seek from those taking the helm.”

This is the ninth edition of the FTSE 100 CEO tracker.


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