Executive Briefings

Retail CFO Turnover Could Be a Sign of Changing Times

What did retailers want for Christmas? Apparently, new Chief Financial Officers. Neiman Marcus Group Inc. is on the hunt for a new CFO. So are Kohl's Corp., Coach Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. Whole Foods Market Inc.'s CFO of 29 years - and the longest-serving female CFO in the Fortune 500 - will be leaving in 2017.

In fact, the finance chiefs of at least 45 retail companies worldwide have exited in the past year, according to a Bloomberg tally. About one-fifth of U.S. retailers appointed new finance chiefs in 2015, compared to 15 percent for all industries, according to search firm Korn/Ferry International.

In 2016, the CFO turnover rate for retailers was 17.4 percent percent, compared to 15.4 percent for all industries, Korn/Ferry said.

This rapid turnover is a symptom of the rapidly changing retail industry, as shifting consumer behavior demands new strategies from companies trying to keep up.

CFO turnover rates at retailers have outpaced all industries in the last two years. As a result, the job description of a retail CFO has changed. More than two decades ago — when the departing CFOs of Whole Foods and Nordstrom first joined their companies — a retail CFO's job focused mostly on growth. The formula was straightforward: Make a splashy announcement about building new stores and watch the stock price rise. New locations boost sales, and the stock rises more. Repeat.

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In fact, the finance chiefs of at least 45 retail companies worldwide have exited in the past year, according to a Bloomberg tally. About one-fifth of U.S. retailers appointed new finance chiefs in 2015, compared to 15 percent for all industries, according to search firm Korn/Ferry International.

In 2016, the CFO turnover rate for retailers was 17.4 percent percent, compared to 15.4 percent for all industries, Korn/Ferry said.

This rapid turnover is a symptom of the rapidly changing retail industry, as shifting consumer behavior demands new strategies from companies trying to keep up.

CFO turnover rates at retailers have outpaced all industries in the last two years. As a result, the job description of a retail CFO has changed. More than two decades ago — when the departing CFOs of Whole Foods and Nordstrom first joined their companies — a retail CFO's job focused mostly on growth. The formula was straightforward: Make a splashy announcement about building new stores and watch the stock price rise. New locations boost sales, and the stock rises more. Repeat.

Read Full Article