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CFO role rising in prominence, says recruiter

The changing dynamic between CEO, CFO and COO in corporates across the US is ensuring a rise in prominence for the CFO post, says Crist Associates, a Chicago-based recruitment agency. As the percentage of companies with COO's continues to fall (only 14 of the top 50 US companies by market capitalisation have COO's) so CFOs are assuming the role of number two within the management hierarchy.

?Business demands have moved the CEO closer to the day-to-day operations ? long the domain of the COO ? hence the vanishing COO,? notes the report. ?To fill the vacuum, the CEO and CFO have built a stronger partnership. This has led in a rise in prominence for the CFO.?

But the rise in power and influence also carries its downside, however, as shown by a rise in career volatility. According to Crist's index of companies, only 11% of CFOs have remained in their position over the past nine years. The report puts this down to two factors: a greater company appetite for risk and therefore a greater willingness to hire externally, and increased pressure to hire CFOs to increase shareholder value.

The report also finds that companies are more likely to recruit from outside the company when hiring a CFO, due to a ?heightened scrutiny of CFOs due to recent failings in corporate governance,? and ?board recognition that financial skills are transferable between industries.?

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