CFOs aspire to the company’s top seat


A UK survey of more than 200 senior finance executives finds that 86% aim to eventually move up to the role of chief executive officers (CEO) in their current organisation.

The research, by recruitment agency Robert Half UK, suggest that the toughest competition for the hot seat comes from marketing directors with 23% of chief financial officers (CFOs) perceiving them as the greatest threat. Following closely behind are chief information officers (CIOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs) with 22% of CFOs perceiving their niche skill sets as an advantage when trying to reaching the top, while head of legal is cited by 21%.

Lagging further behind, other colleagues regarded by CFOs as competition include chief operating officer (COO) and vice president of operations (both 12%); human resources director (11%); sales director (9%) and other roles (3%).

“This [finding] supports current trends that IT is a key driver in delivering business growth,” the firm comments. “However, finance continues to be the route to the top as 55% of current FTSE 100 CEOs have a background in finance, giving CFOs an edge over other roles.”

CFOs believe their knowledge in investor stakeholder management (44%) and economic and business awareness (40%) sets them apart from the crowd. Other benefits that CFOs can deliver are finance and data-driven business decisions (32%), fiscal management and efficiency improvement (22%) and commercial and business growth awareness (12%).

“The ‘perfect’ CEO will combine strong functional and technical knowledge to drive the business objectives with an understanding of the industry and competitive landscape,” said Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at Robert Half UK.

As CEOs continue to be challenged with improving the financial position of the organisation and delivering increased shareholder value, hiring an individual with a strong financial background is often key.

“As new challenges can impact the wider business, companies should regularly review their succession planning strategies to ensure they can fully utilise the range of talent available and develop potential leaders as early as possible.”


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Charles Michel