Companies expand CFOs’ role to retain them amid high demand


The pressure is on for boards to hold onto chief financial officers as firms face the prospect of an economic slowdown and intense competition for talent.

Demand for finance chiefs continues to be high in U.S. businesses, according to a July 4 report from The Wall Street Journal. Data from Russell Reynolds Associates indicates that CFO turnover at companies in the S&P 500 rose to 18 percent in 2021, compared to 15 percent in 2020 and 14 percent in 2019. 

Some new strategies call for broadening CFO responsibilities or elevating their positions altogether to retain top executives, according to Joel von Ranson, head of recruitment firm Spencer Stuart’s global functional practices. 

“Companies create these broader roles and titles to engage and recognize and motivate the very best of the best,” Mr. von Ranson said. 

CFOs at companies in the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 average about five years in their job, according to executive search firm Crist Kolder Associates. Expanding the CFO role allows organizations to create opportunities to retain key talent past the five-year mark. 

In 2021, just under 8 percent of chief executive officers at companies in the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 came from the CFO seat. 

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