Admittedly, it was only down 1% to a mere $3.256 million, from $3.291 million. But in 2002, the first full year since the Enron Corp. scandal erupted, CFOs as a group saw their compensation drop for the first time in a decade, according to compensation analysis firm Pearl Meyer & Partners in New York. No matter how you slice it, the contraction is another illustration of how a tough job just got tougher.

The CFO compensation reductions cut across a variety of industry sectors, and for some were quite painful. A sampling: Susan Tomasky's total compensation at American Electric Power Co. fell 30% in 2002 from a year earlier; Boeing Co.'s Michael M. Sears suffered a 13% decline; IBM Corp.'s John R. Joyce took a 17% hit, and Robert P. Brace of Duke Energy Corp. had to brace himself for a spectacular 74% drop.

Sound bad for CFOs? Hold onto your stock options, because executive compensation experts warn that you may not have seen the worst. Diane Doubleday, a principal at Mercer Human Resource Consulting in San Francisco, notes the real shift in the compensation mix might not occur until 2003 or 2004. "If you think back to the beginning of 2002, we had Enron, but there were more shoes to drop. And we didn't have Sarbanes-Oxley," she says. "I think a lot of companies entering 2002 were very optimistic that they would be improving. But we had more corporate failures, the economy didn't bounce back and Congress reacted very quickly" to the corporate scandals. Now that those issues are very much in the minds of compensation committees, expect to see comp packages undergo some changes, Doubleday predicts.

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