The Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker

What are the trends at the top, and how did some of the world’s most influential business leaders get to where they are today?

The CEOs of the FTSE 100 are some of the most influential business leaders in the world, expertly navigating their organisations through challenges and identifying opportunities that can keep them moving forward.

But how did they get there? Robert Half’s FTSE 100 CEO Tracker investigates hiring trends and tracks the career paths of those at the top.

Top findings:
  • Two-thirds (68%) of CEOs were appointed through internal promotion, up from 46 per cent in 2019, suggesting that organisations are enhancing their succession planning strategies
  • More than two fifths of CEOs (42%) have a background in finance and banking, despite only 19 of the top 100 companies belong to the financial sector
  • Around half (47%) have achieved some form of post-graduate qualification, but Oxbridge is losing its grip on the top roles, dropping to 4 per cent from 18 per cent

Find out more in our slideshare below.

CFOs win out

The financial downturn and uncertainty triggered by the pandemic has also had an impact on boards CEO hiring strategies, which explains why finance, banking and accountancy are amongst the most popular backgrounds:

“During a financial downturn, it becomes common to promote more Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) to the top job, which might explain the high proportion of CEOs with a background in finance. We are seeing more appetite for CFOs to take over running companies as the strategic mind-set and strong financial acumen they bring are widely recognised as being vital for navigating companies through a financial downturn. However, as the economy improves, companies will look to employ visionaries to focus on growth and recovery” says Leyla Tindall, Managing Director of Executive Search.

Men still outnumber women 10:1

Despite attempts by businesses to increase diversity, the findings reveal that only nine women hold the top position in FTSE 100 companies:

“Despite significant progress by companies to improve female representation over the last few years, there are quite simply not enough female bosses filling the top spot in the UK’s most successful companies.

“There is a myriad of reasons for this, but the most significant is the shortage of females in leadership positions – so shortlists for C-suite roles are often not as diverse as they could be. While the introduction of shared parental leave and better support for women returners is encouraging, the time spent away from the workplace to care for a family still sets women back, while their male counterparts continue to progress.” says Leyla.

- Find out Leyla’s thoughts about how women can make it to the top, including mentoring and her own experiences of building her career in our ‘Robert Half meets…’ blog.


Robert Half commissioned global consulting firm (and wholly owned subsidiary) Protiviti to undertake analysis of data of the FTSE Top 100 Companies as of 9th March 2022 from the London Stock Exchange, via the Protiviti Knowledge & Innovation Centre. Data has been gathered for Financial Year 2020 and recognises changes to the FTSE 100 that are due to take effect on 21st March 2022.
To access more of Robert Half’s exclusive research and insights providing a deep-dive analysis of issues important to hiring managers, jobseekers and working professionals visit our Reports and Guides.

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