New Finance Chief Makes Nasdaq One Of Few S&P 500 Companies With Women In The CEO And CFO Role

Nasdaq this week appointed Controller and Chief Accounting Officer Ann Dennison as its new CFO, effective March 1, 2021. When she succeeds Michael Ptasznik, who has been with the company since 2016 and plans to retire in February, Nasdaq will become the fifth S&P 500 company to have women helming the CFO and CEO roles. 

Dennison, who has been with the stock exchange for five years, has more than 20 years of experience in financial reporting and analysis. As controller and chief accounting officer, she is responsible for the company’s accounting and financial reporting, in addition to its planning and analysis, tax, procurement and global accounting operations. Prior to joining Nasdaq, Dennison was managing director, head of financial reporting at Goldman Sachs and she also served as an auditor at PwC. She will report to Adena Friedman, Nasdaq’s president and CEO since 2017.

“Ann is a dedicated leader with a deep understanding of our business and our long-term vision,” said Friedman in a statement. “She has made significant contributions to Nasdaq’s financial soundness in her five years with the company and her diligence and expertise will be significant factors in our growth strategy.” 

Earlier this week, Nasdaq released its third-quarter results, which revealed net revenues were $715 million, an increase of 13% from the prior year period, due in part to heightened trading volumes and an uptick in IPOs. When Dennison takes on her new role in five months, she’s likely to find herself contending with an equally volatile market on the heels of the U.S. presidential election and amid a pandemic that’s shown no signs of letting up. 

“Transitioning into the role of CFO at a time when Nasdaq has continued to prove its resilience and innovative thinking is a tremendous opportunity,” Dennison said in a statement. “I want to thank Michael for his leadership and mentorship, which has been invaluable during our years together. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Adena, the Board of Directors and our employees to further fuel our success as a leading technology company, as well as meeting the needs of our diverse set of stakeholders.”

According to a study by S&P Global, businesses with female CFOs and CEOs are more likely to see above average stock price performance, and those with women finance chiefs specifically generated excess profits of $1.8 trillion over the 17-year period assessed for the study. Despite this, executive recruiting firm Crist Kolder Associates’s annual volatility report finds that 13.4% of S&P 500 and Fortune 500 companies have female CFOs, improvement no doubt from 8.7% in 2010, but a reminder of just how far women leaders still have to go.

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