More CFOs at top firms feel comfortable enough to retire

Many CFOs who initially put off their retirement from top U.S. firms as a result of the recession have recently decided that their companies are financially fit enough to leave to a successor, according to recent data.

More than 36 percent of CFO departures were retirements versus a historical average of about 23 percent, according to a report from the Korn Ferry Institute, which analyzed company and CFO data on the top 1000 U.S. firms by revenue.

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"Some of those CFOs planned to retire earlier on but stayed through the recovery and they found that as the shareholder value increased, they found it as a good time to cash out and take the retirement," said Bryan Proctor, global co-leader of Korn Ferry's Financial Officer Center of Expertise.

Last year, industrial and financial services firms saw the highest turnover as those companies saw improved financial results, but turnover is expected to level off in those sectors this year, according to Proctor.

"As we go into this year, the momentum continues with life sciences. Last year they were just about 15 percent turnover. They're already at 16 percent for the year and we've got plenty more of the year to show the changes," Proctor said.