Compensation for most CFOs has been hard hit by the economic downturn–and it's not making life any easier for Russell Boyle. The head of the financial services practice at New York-based executive search firm Egon Zehnder International, Boyle has had trouble filling a number of jobs at major public companies lately because his clients simply don't have the resources to pay the candidates enough. One company, a business with no debt and plenty of cash, has been turned down by no fewer than three prospective CFOs over the past five months, including people working for smaller, private firms.

"In the old days, a $50,000 to $100,000 gap could be bridged. Now they can't do it," he says. "This situation is the worst I've seen in the past 15 years." It's the perfect storm. With the S&P 500 down 38%, unemployment at 8.5%, consumer spending and real personal income flat, and a still-tight credit market, few companies have escaped the effects of the economic crisis. One of the many casualties has been executive compensation, including pay for CFOs, treasurers and other top-level finance executives. At the same time, public ire over perceived excesses in pay for top officers at AIG and Wall Street firms receiving government bailout money is putting even more pressure on all companies to scrutinize compensation packages. "No one wants activists showing up in their neighborhood, picketing their house," says Boyle.

And that's only the beginning. While compensation levels for fiscal 2008 were down, experts say that was a dress rehearsal for 2009, which will see more drastic reductions in pay. The reason: Because the economy's precipitous drop happened fairly late last year, pay levels for 2008 were only partially affected by the downturn. This year, however, compensation will reflect the full brunt of the decline.

Continue Reading for Free

Register and gain access to:

  • Thought leadership on regulatory changes, economic trends, corporate success stories, and tactical solutions for treasurers, CFOs, risk managers, controllers, and other finance professionals
  • Informative weekly newsletter featuring news, analysis, real-world cas studies, and other critical content
  • Educational webcasts, white papers, and ebooks from industry thought leaders
  • Critical coverage of the employee benefits and financial advisory markets on our other ALM sites, PropertyCasualty360 and ThinkAdvisor

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.