Will this be the Decade of the CFO?

At the end of 2008, The Economist published this prediction for 2009  … 

“As financial skills are valued more highly, CFOs will make it to the corner office in greater numbers than before. Recession, credit crunch and the increasingly complex nature of global companies will all play directly into the bean counter’s hands. Nominations committees will throw their trust behind the guy who has protected the creditworthiness of a company in hard times and won the trust of the market; they will pick him for the top slot rather than poaching an expensive star CEO from outside. This will be bad news for headhunters (who will vainly try to make good the shortfall by meddling in internal succession instead), but also bad news for CEOs’ bank balances as top salaries will halt their ever-upward march.”

Well, it’s 2010 and it seems the trend continues. In fact, Tom Hood wonders in a recent blog post if this might be the decade of the CFO. I believe he’s on to something. In fact, I’ve blogged about this numerous times including one I penned last year entitled, CFOs as CEOs.

A recent survey by Robert Half Management Resources revealed …

… this trend [longer tenure] is having another positive effect on CFOs: "Because of their growing view of the entire enterprise and increased interaction with the board of directors, financial executives are now more frequently considered serious candidates for CEO roles."

What do you think. Will this shaping up to be the decade of the CFO? If so, are you well-positioned within your organization to be that high-value target?

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3 thoughts on “Will this be the Decade of the CFO?”

  1. In Tom Hood’s blog post there is a quote from Stephen Miles, vice chairman of Heidrick & Struggles, “The best CEOs in the world are a combination of CEO, COO and CFO. They are inspirational, financially literate and know the ins and outs of their business at a sophisticated level.”
    In theory this seems to make sense, but having been all three in my career it hasn’t increased the number of career opportunities I’ve seen over the past 2 years. Does my experience indicate that companies are settling for less driven by other economic decision factors such as compensation or relocation? If there is a new trend developing I welcome it.

  2. I think economic conditions will actually drive companies towards the ultimate CFO even faster. A strong operational CFO can now eliminate the need for a COO. With the number of internal promotions increasing, an operational CFO is well-poised to move into that CEO role.
    This was one of the trends I mentioned when I spoke at the Prophix Conference last year. It looks like I may have been spot on!


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