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What does it take to land a CFO appointment?

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Annual CFO Pathways Report 2022 Edition

The world of executive search can appear vague and secretive. To those on the outside, decisions are taken on who to contact, who to meet, and ultimately who to hire can appear clouded in mystery. Why is the sector so important? Does Private Equity experience really matter? Are men, or indeed women, given preferential treatment?

From humble beginnings, Eton Bridge Partner’s CFO Practice has grown to become one of Europe’s leading finance executive search businesses. We have helped hundreds of businesses appoint new CFOs. Yet until recently, we had never used any statistical analysis to understand the background of the typical CFO appointment.

Most executive search firms base their advice on experience (and we certainly are no different!) but we wanted something more substantial to back up our recommendations. And so, in 2021, we decided to take a detailed looked at all CFO appointments across the UK. We aimed to discover the most likely career path to CFO. For example, is it true that PE experience is needed to work in a PE-backed firm? Does sector experience really matter? What role does age and gender play? Ultimately, what does it take to land a CFO appointment?

We launched the report in June 2021, with a modest hope that it would help a few people. We were not expecting the surge of downloads and activity that resulted. Nearly 1000 CFOs contacted us for access to the data, and we have seen a rise in activity ever since. Following this success, along with our partners, BoardEx, we have decided to make “CFO Pathways” an annual report.

This year, we have expanded our focus to both the UK and Europe. We have analysed 1,213 CFO appointments to truly understand the qualitative criteria behind hiring a CFO. Clearly, this approach has limitations (for example, we cannot analyse chemistry through raw data!). However, these limitations notwithstanding, we think we have produced the most detailed study available of what it takes to land a CFO appointment. From sector, role, and background, to age, gender, and nationality. We have the results to guide your decision-making.

Our Pathways report does not attempt to explain why but instead shines a light on what decisions are being made when selecting a CFO.

We hope you find the data useful.

To read the full report, follow this link.