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UK CEOs younger and better at figures than global average

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Chief executives of the UKs largest companies tend to be younger, have a stronger financial background and serve longer than their international counterparts, according to a new report.

The average age of a FTSE CEO is 52, while the global average is 56. And 39% of UK-listed company bosses have some degree of finance experience, compared with 26% of the top 100 international CEOs.

Top British-based bosses serve an average of five years and five months, while their overseas counterparts serve an average of four years and three months.

Recruitment consultancy Robert Half conducted the research, using data from the FTSE 100 and Standard & Poor’s Global 100.

It finds that the most popular route through to CEO level starts in finance, with 32% of CEOs following this path. Marketing was the second most popular route.

“The ability to analyse figures, handle the investment and shareholder community as well as demonstrate business acumen to all of a company’s stakeholders is a vital part of the CEO role,” says Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half. “This is why so many companies look no further than their finance department for their CEO succession.”

Sir Martin Sorrell, who has served 22 years as WPP Group’s boss, is the longest-serving FTSE CEO. Bill Coley, CEO of British Energy Group, is the oldest FTSE 100 boss at 65.