Combination of background in finance and industry knowledge key to success of FTSE 100 CEOs

27 April 2016
  • 55% of FTSE 100 CEOs have a background in finance
  • Almost one in four (23%) CEOs are qualified Chartered Accountants
  • 66% of company leaders joined from role in same industry
  • A fifth (19%) of CEOs arrived into their post in the last 12 months, nine as new CEOs to an existing FTSE 100 company or as part of the promotion of 10 new companies to the index

London, 27 April 2016 – A background in finance continues to be the most common career background of today’s FTSE 100 CEOs (55%), compared to 21% in retail/hospitality, 15% in engineering/natural resources, 15% in marketing and 14% in technology. Almost one in four (23%) CEOs are qualified Chartered Accountants, according to new research1 from leading recruitment specialists, Robert Half UK

The 2016 annual Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker shows that the average tenure of Britain’s top bosses is five years and three months, with the longest tenure record currently held at more than 30 years. The majority (66%) of today’s CEOs move from a senior role in the same industry, showing continuing importance placed on building up a credible understanding of a single sector when aiming to move into a C-suite role. 

There were a total of 10 new entrants to the FTSE 100 in the period analysed, including Inmarsat, Worldpay, Informa and Paddy Power.  Further change came in the form of nine new CEOs taking the helm of companies already in the FTSE 100, including Mike Wells, who replaced Tidjane Thiam at Prudential in June 2015 and James Edward "Jes" Staley, who replaced Antony Jenkins at Barclays in December.

The number of women heading up the FTSE 100 has increased by one in the past 12 months.  There are now six female CEOs in the FTSE 100 with the appointment of Alison Brittain to Whitbread earlier in 2016, up from just four in 2011 and 2012.

The majority (60%) of FTSE 100 CEOs are British citizens, yet 20 different nationalities are represented at the top of the UK’s largest companies, including leaders from South Africa, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

From an education point of view, a fifth (18%) of FTSE 100 CEOs are Oxbridge educated, down one per cent from the previous year and more than a quarter (28%) have an MBA or PHD, down four points from last year.

Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK, said: “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.

“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.”

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Notes to editors

1 All information based on analysis of publicly available sources of information analysed from the period 1st April 2015 – 31st March. 2016

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy; a member of the S&P 500 and #1 in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World's Most Admired Companies” list (2015). Founded in 1948, the company has over 330 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.

About the Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker

Since 2007, Robert Half has conducted annual research on CEOs of the FTSE 100 by analysing publicly available sources of information about FTSE 100 CEOs to track trends including their professional career backgrounds, age and length of tenure. The research was analysed from the period 1st April 2015 – 31st March 2016, and all results are correct to the best of our knowledge.

A presentation is available which highlights the key findings of this year’s research of the Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker.