Majority of UK CFOs aspire to be CEO

19 September 2016
  • 86% of UK CFOs are motivated to become a CEO
  • Marketing Directors (23%) are CFOs’ biggest competition to reach the top
  • 44% of CFOs believe their knowledge in investor stakeholder management sets them apart

19 September 2016, London – The majority (86%) of UK Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are driven to reach the top role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in their current organisation, reveals new research1 from leading recruitment agency Robert Half UK.

The toughest competition for the hot seat comes from Marketing Directors with 23% of 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. This supports current trends that IT is a key driver in delivering business growth.  However, finance continues to be the route to the top as 55% of current FTSE 100 CEOs have a background in finance2, giving CFOs an edge over other roles.

200 UK CFOs were asked: “In your opinion, which role do you view as the greatest competition to the CFO in reaching the CEO/Managing Director role in a company?”

Roles perceived as the greatest competition  

Percentage of CFOs

Marketing Director

23%

CIO/CTO

22%

Head of Legal

21%

COO, VP Operations

12%

Human Resources Director

11%

Sales Director

9%

Other

3%

 

*Total percentage does not add up to 100 per cent due to rounding

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%). 

Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK, UAE and South America, said: “The ‘perfect’ CEO will combine strong functional and technical knowledge to drive the business objectives with an understanding of the industry and competitive landscape. 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.”

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

1 The annual global study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 200 interviews with senior finance executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.

2 Robert Half 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, gender, nationality 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.

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About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 325 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology and administrative professionals. For more than 15 years, Robert Half has been named to FORTUNE® magazine’s list of “Most Admired Companies” and offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.