Female appointments to European financial services boardrooms fell year-on-year in 2023, amid growing demand for C-suite experience

Appointments of female board directors to Europe’s largest financial services firms declined seven percentage points year-on-year, according to the latest EY European Financial Services Boardroom Monitor, which reports that 44% of all appointments last year were of women, down from 51% in 2022.

  • Gender split: 44% of European financial services directors appointed in 2023 were female, down from 51% in 2022
  • C-suite experience: 59% of all directors appointed in 2023 brought C-suite experience, but just 38% were female, down from 47% in 2022
  • Female representation: 31% of firms still report under 40% female board representation, with women holding the most senior board positions* at just 29% of firms
  • Most in-demand experience: 36% of all directors appointed in the past year brought political experience to the boardroom, down from 41% in 2022; 27% brought tech experience, up from 22%; and 22% brought ESG / sustainability skills / experience, down from 23%

While all European financial services firms monitored have female representation at boardroom level, the current gender split across all firms stands at 57% male and 43% female (down from 58:42 in 2022), and 31% of listed European financial services firms are still reporting under 40% female representation in their boardroom. This is below the level required by June 2026 to comply with the European Commission’s European Women on Boards Directive, which requires all companies in EU member states to meet a 40% female target for non-executive boards or 33% for all board members.

C-suite experience in demand on European boards

C-suite experience was the top criteria for new board director recruitment in 2023 – for the second year running – with 59% of appointments during the year bringing current or past executive management team experience. However, of directors with c-suite experience appointed this year, just 38% were female, down from 47% in 2022. 

Across European financial services boardrooms, female directors remain significantly less likely than their male counterparts to have the experience of C-suite role or hold a senior board position. Just over half (51%) of female directors have the experience of an executive management team role, while 64% of male directors have similar experience. Across the population of directors tracked, senior board positions (defined under the FCA’s proposed changes to UK Listing Rules (pdf) as Chair, Chief Executive Officer, Senior Independent Director or Chief Financial Officer are held by women at only 29% of listed European financial firms.

Răzvan Pîrnac, Director, Financial Services Risk Management, EY Romania: “The Romanian banking boardroom reached the target of 33% female representation for all board members, as the gender split of the board of directors of the top 5 Romanian banks is 39% female and 61% male as of December 2023. A similar percentage was registered in December 2022 as well. However, the share of female representation in Romanian banking boardroom is below the EU share of 43%”.

Boardroom skills in demand

Data from the EY Boardroom Monitor shows that 14% of European financial services board directors left their role in 2023, with new appointments lagging departures at 11%.

However, financial services firms have used new appointees to continue to deepen political, technology and sustainability skill sets and experiences on their boards. Of directors appointed in 2023, 36% bring political experience (down from 41% in 2022), 27% have professional experience in tech (up from 22% in 2022), and 22% have professional experience in sustainability or ESG (down from 23% in 2022).

New appointments are still more likely than existing directors to have sustainability, tech and political knowledge and experience. Across all board members, 15% have experience in sustainability, 18% have experience in tech, and 33% have political experience.

In the past year, a greater proportion of female directors have brought experience in tech (33%) and ESG (27%) relative to male peers, 23% of whom have tech experience and 18% have ESG or sustainability experience.

Quick data overview as at 31 December 2023

  • Total number of firms tracked across Europe: 84
  • Total number of European board directors monitored: 1014
  • Total number of female board directors monitored: 432
  • Total number of male board directors monitored: 582
  • Total number of European board director exits in 2023: 146
  • Total number of new European board directors in 2023: 110

Notes to editors:

  • This is the fourth launch of the EY European Financial Services Boardroom Monitor, and data is current to 31st December 2023
  • The EY European Financial Services Boardroom Monitor does not track the race and ethnicity of board members, as there is no standardized format for directors to disclose against
  • This release incorporates a survey of 300 European and UK-based fund managers undertaken in June 2023, who have, or are able to have, exposure to European financial services companies within their portfolios.
  • * Most senior board positions refers to defined under the FCA’s proposed changes to UK Listing Rules as Chair, Chief Executive Officer, Senior Independent Director or Chief Financial Officer

About the EY Boardroom Monitor

The EY Financial Services European Boardroom Monitor tracks the experience, background, and skillsets of board members across a defined universe of financial services firms to create a broad picture of the gaps in experience and possible pressure points within the listed European financial services markets.

The EY Financial Services European Boardroom Monitor tracks and analyses data across a wide range of factors, including gender and age, as well as professional experience and skills.

The EY Financial Services European Boardroom Monitor is comprised of disclosable, publicly available data on board appointments at listed banks, wealth and asset managers, FinTechs and insurers across the UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, using the MSCI European Financials Index as the core universe.

This release incorporates a survey of 300 European and UK-based fund managers who have, or are able to have, exposure to European financial services companies within their portfolios. The survey asks about the biggest risks to European Financial Services companies and where investors see the biggest skillset gaps within boardrooms.

These two data sets are compared to assess where European financial services boardrooms in different markets and sectors appear to have skillset and diversity gaps relative to shareholder priorities. This allows an ongoing assessment of how the composition of boardrooms compares to the expectations of investors.

About EY Romania

EY is one of the world's leading professional services firms with 395,442 employees in more than 700 offices across 150 countries, and revenues of approx. $49.4 billion in the financial year that ended on 30 June 2023. Our network is the most integrated worldwide, and its resources help us provide our clients with services allowing them to take advantage of opportunities anywhere in the world.

With a presence in Romania ever since 1992, EY provides, through its more than 900 employees in Romania and the Republic of Moldova, integrated services in assurance, tax, strategy and transactions, and consulting to clients ranging from multinationals to local companies.

Our offices are based in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Iasi and Chisinau. In 2014, EY Romania joined the only global competition dedicated to entrepreneurship, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year. The winner of the national award represents Romania at the world final taking place every year in June, at Monte Carlo. The title of World Entrepreneur Of The Year is awarded in the world final. For more information, please visit: www.ey.com