The DNA of the CFO

CFO: staging post or career destination?

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The CFO role is broad, challenging and, for most, one that is a destination, not a stepping stone to CEO.

The broadening scope of the CFO role, and the potential to influence corporate strategy and drive business change, means that most finance leaders enjoy a high level of career satisfaction.

Yet, most believe that the challenges of the role mean that the ideal length of tenure within a particular organization is only five years.

Seventy-three percent of CFOs surveyed see their role as a destination in its own right and only 10% harbor an ambition to be the CEO. Interestingly, they report few “heroes” or role models within their own community from which to learn, which may reflect on the degree to which CFOs have historically invested in their external profile.

The role which respondents aspire to (percentage)

EY - The role which respondents aspire to

Shown: Percentage of respondents
Base: all respondents (669)

A unique community

Despite the breadth of our study, what is clear from the results is that the respondents represent a distinctive, and unique, community of professionals. The lack of diversity across segments was marked. He, or she (although they are predominately he), is highly educated, highly skilled and highly motivated. The average CFO is aged 42 years and eight months and believes the appropriate tenure for a role to be 5 years and 10 months. Most have spent the majority of their careers in the finance function, and most wish to stay and develop as a CFO. This is no staging post to the role of a CEO. For most, it is a career destination and a role that recognizes and rewards their unique offering.