CFOs getting more CEO jobs

More CFOs are moving to CEO or president roles, but finance executives must be well-versed in what drives growth to find success in the corner office, Bloomberg reported Jan. 16.

CFOs have historically been known for number crunching, but are increasingly taking on more operational responsibilities. Their roles have expanded beyond traditional finance and accounting, and the skills CFOs need have changed too. 

In 2023, a record 8.4% of companies represented in the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 promoted a finance chief to CEO, up from 5.8% 10 years ago ago, according to data from executive search firm Crist Kolder Associates. Data is based on a sample of about 674 companies.

"CFOs are taking on a more operational role in those businesses, ingratiating themselves," Josh Crist, a co-managing partner at Crist Kolder, told Bloomberg. "The more you can grab as CFO, the more likely you will have chances at the top gig."

Crist Kolder anticipates this trend to continue, with more CFOs landing in CEO roles as companies aim to get their finances back to a more stable footing amid an unstable outlook for the U.S. economy. 

CFOs are strategic leaders and drive performance across the organization. Though CFOs who have been in the role for a decade or two may have a more traditional viewpoint, many are adapting to the role of the modern CFO and embracing their more strategic position. 

Despite the rising success of CFOs, serving as COO continues to be the clearest path to CEO, according to Crist Kolder, which found last year that almost 50% of CEOs who came from within an organization were previously in COO-type roles.

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