Research conducted by the executive recruiters finds that 38% of the chief
executives in the FTSE 100 have a finance or accountancy background. The figure
– though slightly down on the 41% achieved in 2002 – marks a significant
increase on the figures from 10 years ago, when only 26% of business leaders in
the top roles were accountants.
When it comes to producing chief executives, the closest rivals to the
accountancy profession have a background in sales and marketing (23%) and
general management (18%).
Heidrick & Struggles also finds that the bulk of chief executives who are
accountants have worked their way up to the position through internal promotion,
whereas most of the chief executives recruited externally come from other
The research says that 45% of internally appointed chief executives have an
accountancy or finance background compared with 23% of those who are hired from
Dr Elisabeth Marx, who conducted the research, believes the dominance of
accountants in the FTSE 100 raises questions over ‘whether UK boardrooms are
diverse enough in terms of functional background’.
Marx also says the high number of accountants who are promoted to the chief
executive post internally is an indication that companies could do more to
recruit internal candidates from other backgrounds.
‘This pattern suggests that UK companies need to ensure that executives with
a different background from accountancy have an equal chance to progress to the
top position through targeted leadership development,’ said Marx.
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