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Significant Turnover At The Top In FTSE 100

Posted on May 19, 2015 at 7:00 PM

British-born, white men around the age of 54 with a track record in finance still dominate the ranks of FTSE 100 CEOs, according to the latest Robert Half CEO tracker survey. Quelle Surprise.

But its analysis reveals some interesting detail. In the last 18 months there has been significant turnover - a fifth (21%) of CEOs in the FTSE 100 were appointed to their position in the last 18 months. Of these, 62% have a history of only ever working in one industry. 

"Despite the track record of leaders such as ITV's Adam Crozier who has successfully switched industries delivering shareholder value, it appears selection panels are increasingly looking for CEOs with credentials and an impressive track record of working in a single sector" says Robert Half.

Or perhaps selection panels - and the headhunters that serve them - are getting more nervous about thinking laterally amid a continuing tough economic climate.


Out of 101 current CEOs (one of TUI Group's co-CEOs, Peter Long, is reportedly due to step down in 2016), some 61% are British born. The remainder have their origins in a range of other countries including the US, Chile, South Africa and Greece. The latest member of the FTSE 100 is Hikma, the first Jordanian company to be listed.

Oxbridge remains dominant in FTSE 100 CEO CVs, with a fifth of them having attended. A third (32%) have an MBA or a PhD and more than one in four (27%) are qualified chartered accountants - which does make one wonder about recent scandals involving accounting.

As for women......there are now FIVE female CEOs with the appointment of Liv Garfield to Severn Trent and Veronique Laury-Deroubaix to Kingfisher. 

Here are some thoughts I expressed on Forbes on corporate talent. 

In terms of new entrants to the index - there were a total of seven in the period analysed (April 1 2014 - March 20 2015). They included Dixons Carphone and Barratt Developments, Taylor Wimpey, Intu and Hikma. last month a further change was made to the FTSE 100 when the acquisition of Friends Life by Aviva was completed and Merlin Entertainments took up the spare place.

While we laud the undeniable merits of finance skills at the top of business, I point you to a few other thoughts expressed earlier - on soft skills. 

I don't know how often CEOs become Chairmen - but it seems to me that 'soft skills' are doubly essential in that role.

Look out for the latest in 'Board Conversations' from Egon Zehnder, to come. Discussing the chairman's role particularly in relation to activist investors, it will say:

"Strategy and board composition are being challenged in the short term by activist investors who take a small equity stake and then very publicly challenge management and the board. Often the activist proposes an alternative strategy — typically today, spin-offs or divestments of some of the company’s businesses. Activists also may demand changes in the board and offer candidates to replace directors the activists regard as being underperformers or lacking in relevant experience or knowledge. If the board refuses, the activist may initiate a bruising proxy fight. In these high-profile, often highly emotional conflicts, the independent chairman must guide the board to the response that ultimately is best for shareholders”


Categories: Appointments, Measurement, Scrutiny

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