Study Finds Fortune 500 CFOs Staying in Roles One Year Longer

Aug 12th 2013
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By Jason Bramwell

Fortune 500 CFOs are staying at their jobs longer, as the average tenure among top corporate financial executives is 5.9 years, up from 4.9 years since 2008, according to new research highlighted in Spencer Stuart's annual CFO Index.

The CFO Index by Spencer Stuart, a global executive search and leadership consulting firm, looks at trends related to CFOs of Fortune 500 companies over an eight-year period.

While CFO tenure is climbing, there is also significant turnover taking place among the Fortune 500 CFOs. According to the study, there were sixteen more CFO transitions in 2012 (15 percent) compared to 2011 (11 percent). 

The consumer goods sector has seen the highest increase in turnover in the past four years with eighteen transitions in 2012, while there has been less volatility in the financial services sector, which had the lowest number of CFO transitions in 2012 (six) since the CFO Index began tracking the data eight years ago.

"A number of CFOs, particularly in financial services companies, have been committed to seeing their companies through and past the financial crisis", Joel von Ranson, leader of Spencer Stuart's North American Financial Officer Practice, said in a written statement. "Now as markets continue to stabilize, it's likely CFO tenure will gradually return to its long-term average."

Along with an increase in tenure, there have also been modest gains for female CFOs, as 11.4 percent of the Fortune 500 CFOs are women compared to a CFO Index low of 6.7 percent in 2006.

"The news for women aspiring to CFO roles is positive, but there still is considerable work to be done", von Ranson said. "The story is similar for people of color, who represent just 3.4 percent of CFOs today, which is down from a high of 4 percent in 2010."

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