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CFOs Got Bigger Pay Increases Than CEOs Last Year

May 30, 2008
Related Topics: Benefit Design and Communication, Latest News
Median pay for CFOs at large U.S. companies jumped 5.2 percent last year, to $2.9 million, finds a study released Thursday, May 29.

More than half the overall CFO compensation consisted of equity awards, which rose 8.2 percent to a median of $1.5 million in 2007, according to the study of 313 companies by Equilar, an executive compensation research firm. Base salaries grew 9.1 percent to $525,000.

The percentage increases topped those for chief executives, whose median pay rose 1.3 percent to $8.8 million last year, according to an April study by the Redwood Shores, California, firm.

“The rising pay may indicate increasing visibility and risk for CFOs,” Equilar research manager Alexander Cwirko-Godycki said in an interview. “And the growing stock compensation may be an attempt to lock up CFOs for the long term as the job gets tougher.”

He cited the growing demands placed on CFOs by Sarbanes-Oxley, including the increasing risk created by the law’s requirement that finance chiefs certify company financial statements.

The study also found that while salaries, stock and options rose, the median CFO bonus fell 3.4 percent to $576,880. The bonuses consisted of discretionary bonuses and annual and long-term cash bonuses.

Equilar’s study focused on executives who had been in place for at least two years, to avoid those who may have gotten big pay increases with their promotions or bonuses for joining a new company, Cwirko-Godycki said. (The various forms of compensation do not add up to the total in part because of the quirks of using median values.)

The study also found that accumulated pension benefits for CFOs soared 18 percent last year, to a median value of $1.1 million. Deferred compensation in the form of pension plans jumped 21 percent to $779,388.

Filed by Neil Roland of Financial Week, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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