Businessperson of the Year

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It starts with results. Each December, when we choose Fortunes Businessperson of the Year, we focus first on CEOs who are delivering the goods. Through an exhaustive screening process, we rank companies by 12- and 36-month increases in profits, revenues, and stock performance, then go deeper to include factors like return on capital. (We give more weight to the 12-month results to identify who’s on top today, but also include the 36-month figures to weed out those who may have just had a lucky year.) But it’s not only about the numbers. We lean toward CEOs with vision—those impacting the world beyond their companies. The 20 star executives that follow are doing nothing less than defining the future of business.

16

Walt Bettinger

CEO, Charles Schwab
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Elijah Nouvelage — Reuters

Walt Bettinger’s timing is either terrible or stupendous. Having taken over as CEO of Charles Schwab in late 2008, he guided the brokerage through the financial crisis by trimming Schwab’s costs and keeping clients focused on the long term. Today Schwab boasts the least expensive mutual funds in the industry and a strong relationship with independent advisers (who keep their clients’ money with Schwab). The combo is apparently working: As of September, customers have opened more than 100,000 new Schwab brokerage accounts a month for a record 10 straight months. And profits are up 28% over the trailing 12 months.—Adam Lashinsky

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