FDs may not be ideal for CEO posts

Financial acumen is no guarantee of success as a CEO, according to a leadership consultant.

A study by Robert Half UK, which provides specialised staffing services for accounting and finance professionals, finds that 67 per cent of newly appointed CEOs have a financial background and in total 49 per cent have come through that route – compared to just 31 per cent three years ago.

However, Niamh O’Keeffe, managing director of leadership performance acceleration company First100 says that while promoting a financial director (FD) to CEO may seem like a ‘safe bet’, it is no certainty of success.

O’Keeffe says, ‘It has almost become an accepted fact that good FDs are best placed to make good CEOs because of their financial skill set.

‘While a strong grasp of numbers is undoubtedly important, the reality is that a great or even good CEO will need an awful lot more skills to achieve success in the top job.’

He adds, ‘CEO leadership is about setting a clear direction and bringing people with you in order to get the right financial results. FDs may wield power in the sense that they understand the business model inside out, but this does not mean that they can set out a clear vision for the whole company or know how to serve the needs of its customers in an ever shifting market-place.’

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