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Survey: Most CFOs Don't Have Successor Picked Out; Lack of Time and Qualified Candidates Cited as Top Reasons

MENLO PARK, Calif., June 13, 2013 -- If a firm's top financial executive suddenly left the company or had to resign, most organizations would not be prepared to deal with the aftereffects, new research suggests. In a Robert Half Management Resources survey, nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) chief financial officers (CFOs) said they have not identified a successor for their position.

Many respondents (61 percent) said they have yet to identify a successor because they are not planning to leave their firm in the near future. This is down 20 percentage points from a 2010 survey. For an increasing number of financial executives, other issues are hindering their efforts: 19 percent of CFOs reported being too busy focusing on other concerns, and 14 percent cited a lack of qualified internal candidates.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world's premier provider of senior-level finance, accounting and business systems professionals on a project and interim basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with more than 2,100 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

CFOs were asked, "Have you identified a successor for your position?" Their responses:

  2013 2010
No 78% 83%
Yes  22%  17%
  100% 100%

CFOs who have not identified their successor were asked, "Which one of the following most accurately describes your reason for not identifying your successor?" Their responses:

  2013 2010
Not planning on leaving in the near future 61% 81%
Too busy focusing on other concerns 19% 6%
No qualified candidates currently working at your organization 14% 7%
Not a priority as you would no longer be with the company 5% 4%
Other 0% 1%
Don't know/no answer   1%   1%
  100% 100%

"Succession planning is a critical business process that should be implemented throughout the organization," said Paul McDonald, Robert Half senior executive director. "Even if there is no immediate need to fill a position, identifying future executive talent helps companies prepare for the unexpected, develop a pipeline of strong leaders and build a more capable staff.

"The process starts with recruiting and identifying the right personnel with desired leadership qualities," added McDonald. "Employers should provide professional development opportunities and hands-on experience to ensure the next person in line for a key role is ready for a smooth transition."

About Robert Half Management Resources
Robert Half Management Resources is the premier provider of senior-level finance, accounting and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has locations worldwide and offers assistance to hiring managers at roberthalfmr.com.


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