Finance Executives' Raises Lag

Raises seem to be going the way of the dodo, at least for finance executives. Fifty-seven percent of the more than 1,100 finance executives who reported their compensation to Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) say they were not awarded an increase in their base salary in 2010. That's up from the 31% who didn't get a raise in 2009 and the 16% who didn't get one in 2008. And the average pay hike for executives who did receive one was just 2.1%, down from 3.7% in 2009 and 4.96% in 2008.

Of course, salary is only a part of finance executives' pay. Public company CFOs are taking home an average salary of $285,000, down from $296,800 in 2009. But their total cash compensation, including bonuses and long-term cash incentives, averaged $480,877, and their total compensation, which also takes into account stock-based compensation, retirement benefits and perks, was $680,407--or 238% of their base salary. Finance chiefs at private companies were more modestly compensated, with their average salary of $204,800, up from $199,600 the year before, total cash compensation of $285,044 and total compensation of $367,311.

The FEI numbers suggest companies place great value these days on the services provided by their treasurers and chief accounting officers. While the average salary increase was just 2.1%, the average raise for treasurers was 3%. And while controllers at public companies are earning salaries of $218,700 and vice presidents of finance are making $209,100, the average salary for public company chief accounting officers is $247,900 and for treasurers $235,600. Moreover, the total compensation for treasurers was $703,976, or almost three times their salary--the biggest multiple for any of the categories of executives.

"It could reflect the market demand right now," Cheryl Graziano, vice president of financial research and accounting policy at FERF, says of the level of compensation reported by chief accounting officers and treasurers. She notes companies' recent focus on liquidity and access to credit, which tend to be the domain of treasurers, and the fact that companies are dealing with convergence and other changes to accounting rules, which plays to the strengths of chief accounting officers. "It would be fair to say, at least from anecdotal comments we get from our members, that those technical skills are in need right now," Graziano says.

To read more about trends in compensation for CFOs, see Pay Pressures Play Both Ways.


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