Job Hunting

CFOs by the Numbers

After 17 years, CEOs are finally catching up to CFOs in the rate of turnover; and other newly minted facts about the job market for finance chiefs.
David McCannSeptember 13, 2011

Turnover among large-company CFOs is outpacing the rate of CEO churn in 2011, for the 17th consecutive year, according to the annual “Volatility Report” by executive recruiting firm Crist|Kolder.

However, the gap in the two turnover figures has narrowed to less than a percentage point. Extrapolating the result so far this year to a full year’s worth of data, CFO positions will open up at 14.1% of the 669 companies that are in either the Fortune 500 or S&P 500, compared with 13.3% for CEOs. Back in 2007 and 2008, when numerous CFOs were walking the plank as companies scrambled to find credit and stock prices plummeted, the gap swelled to as much as seven percentage points.

Other tidbits from the report include the following:

  • The average CFO is 51 years old, earns a base salary of $550,000, has 5.1 years of tenure in his or her current job, and sits on 0.3 boards.
  • While few CEOs (8%) were CFOs in their immediately prior jobs, 37% have had some experience as a financial executive, continuing a long-term trend. In 2000 only 19% of chief executives had finance in their DNA.
  • The energy sector has the most CEOs with CFO experience, at 25%. Technology companies have the fewest (6%).
  • The percentage of new CFOs hired away from other companies has climbed from 29% in 2010 to 35% this year – getting back near the historical average of 39% – while the same statistic for CEOs dipped from 27% to 25%.
  • The financial-services industry accounted for 25% of CFO volatility through July. Next on the list was the technology sector at 16%. The most stable were the services, health-care, and energy industries, all at 7.3%.
  • Twenty-four percent of CFOs were controllers in their previous roles.
  • The number of companies with a chief operating officer declined for a fourth consecutive year, reaching 38%. That’s down from 48% in 2000.