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Wanted: Finance Experience

Only a quarter of Fortune 500 audit committees are headed by finance chiefs.

19Oct

Despite the Sarbanes-Oxley requirement that audit committees have at least one member who qualifies as a "financial expert," many are still headed by an individual with no experience as a CFO or in public accounting, even at the largest firms (see "Can You Spot the Finance Expert?" CFO, September 2005). According to a Crist Associates survey, just 27 percent of audit-committee chairs at Fortune 500 companies have CFO experience, and only 11 percent have spent any significant time at one of the Big Four accounting firms. Almost 57 percent are current or former CEOs, says Peter Crist, founder of the executive-recruiting firm. However, he adds, that number is actually an improvement over the past, when most audit committees were headed by current or retired CEOs. "There is a dramatic change under way," says Crist. "In two to four years, the numbers will be much larger."


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