CFOs: Evolution | Industry Experience | Age Discrimination

A couple weeks ago I did a webinar on Proformative entitled “Getting to the CFO Chair.” You can find the entire webinar here, but let me mention a couple of points in light of the numerous articles that have come out recently on the Crist Kolder volatility study I cited in my webinar.

CFO Evolution

Bean Counters no more
Bean Counters no more

Here’s the evolution of the Chief Financial Officer …

Bean Counter
Operational Finance
International Operational Finance
Operational IT FInance

The CFO really has taken over the operations role (Operational CFOs are the most high-value targets). In December 2011, the number of companies with a COO hit historic lows.

Going forward, those CFOs with international operational experience and operational IT experience will be the two “new” high-value target candidates.

Industry Experience

Among Finance 1000 CFOs, “relevant industry experience” was not as important as being a sitting CFO or divisional finance leadership … with 56% of new hires having been brought in from a different industry.

That trend flies in the face of “industry-only” experience that has been the norm in the past. Another interesting article on industry experience, “The Most Classic Hiring Mistake,” was on today. I thought this excerpt was particularly telling …

 But how many times have you come across someone who has five years of experience that adds up to just one year’s bad experience repeated five times?

Age Discrimination

The average age of CFOs among Fortune and S&P 500 companies is …


That’s right … fifty-one.

Many of my clients have concerns about age discrimination, but the reality is two-fold. First, most companies aren’t hiring a 30-something whiz-kid as their CFO. Second, if they are, you probably don’t want that position anyway.

If you haven’t already seen the Crist Kolder report, it is an interesting read. You can also read a synopsis of some of the report at

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