CFO tenure is on the rise among Fortune 500 CFOs, with the average tenure pegged at 5.9 years, up from 4.9 years since 2008, according to new research.

The increase in tenure is one of the trends highlighted in the executive search consulting firm Spencer Stuart’s annual CFO Index. The CFO Index examines trends among CFOs of Fortune 500 companies over an eight-year period.

While CFO tenure is climbing, the research also found significant turnover occurring among Fortune 500 CFOs. There were 16 more CFO transitions in 2012 (15 percent), compared to 2011 (11 percent). The consumer goods sector has seen the highest increase in turnover in the past four years, with 18 transitions in 2012, while there has been less volatility in the financial services sector, which had the lowest number of CFO transitions in 2012 (six) since the CFO Index began tracking the data eight years ago.

“A number of CFOs, particularly in financial services companies, have been committed to seeing their companies through and past the financial crisis,” said Joel von Ranson, who leads Spencer Stuart’s North American Financial Officer Practice. “Now as markets continue to stabilize, it’s likely CFO tenure will gradually return to its long-term average.”

Along with an increase in tenure, there have also been modest gains for female CFOs. The index found that 11.4 percent of the Fortune 500 CFOs are women, compared to a CFO index low of 6.7 percent in 2006.

“The news for women aspiring to CFO roles is positive, but there still is considerable work to be done,” said von Ranson. “The story is similar for people of color, who represent just 3.4 percent of CFOs today, which is down from a high of 4.0 percent in 2010.”

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