CFOs are outpacing CEOs when it comes to pay increases

March 2, 2023, 11:53 AM UTC
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How much of a base salary increase did CEOs and CFOs receive in 2022?

Compensation Advisory Partners (CAP), an executive compensation consulting firm, exclusively shared with Fortune data on salary, bonuses, and equity payouts that provides a sneak peek. The report data is based on 50 cross-industry S&P 1500 companies (with median revenue of $4.6 billion and a median market cap of $7 billion) that have fiscal year ends between Sept. 30 and Nov. 30.

Approximately 80% of CEOs and CFOs in the research sample received base salary increases. Of the companies making increases, the median increase was 4.4% and 5.5% for CEOs and CFOs, respectively. Looking deeper, the range of salary increases for chief executives is 3.4% to 7.4% whereas their finance chief counterparts ranged from 3.6% to 9.1%.

Courtesy of Compensation Advisory Partners

For S&P 1500 companies, the report findings may reflect themes in salary increases, and lower bonus payouts compared to the prior year, says Ryan Colucci, principal at CAP, and author of the report.

“CFOs have generally received slightly higher salary increases when compared to CEOs,” Colucci says. “This past year, salary budgets across industries were higher than historic norms, so we see a marginal increase in the spread between CEOs and CFOs.”

I asked him if he had any thoughts on possible reasons why CFOs are receiving higher salary increases. “Recently, the job market for CFOs has been tighter than in the past with higher turnover rates,” Colucci says. “Over the years, the CFO role has been evolving to generally become a more strategic, decision-making role which increases the criticality of the role for many organizations. With higher turnover rates and the increased importance of the role, companies have needed to adjust pay packages (including salary) to both attract and retain CFO talent.”

Although CFOs had higher base salary increases, CEOs fared slightly better in bonuses and total compensation. Overall, annual bonuses declined compared to the prior year for just over half of CEOs (down 10% on average) and CFOs (down 12% on average). Total compensation increased modestly, on average, for both CEOs (4%) and CFOs (2%). However, 40% of CEOs experienced a change in total compensation that was greater than 25% of their prior year total pay, and this was the case for one-third of CFOs.

CAP’s report also found that equity awards (non-cash compensation) increased by 17%, on average, for both chief executives and finance chiefs. And equity awards made up two-thirds of CEOs’ total compensation, on average, and 56% of total compensation for CFOs. The research also found that CEOs generally saw “more dramatic swings” in incentive compensation in comparison to CFOs, with a higher percentage of chief executives experiencing increases or decreases of 25% or more.

More than 80% of companies in the S&P 1500 have their fiscal year at the end of the calendar year, Dec. 31, Colucci says. Some of those filings are coming out this week, but the bulk of them will come out throughout the rest of March and early April, he says. The early batch of filings offer up a preview, but so far things are looking bright for CFOs, at least when it comes to pay.

You can find the full report here.

See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada

Big deal

Morgan Stanley’s E-Trade released data from its monthly sector rotation study. The top three sectors in January and February were energy, consumer discretionary (nonessential goods and services, like cars and entertainment), and utilities. The results are based on the trading platform’s customer notional net percentage buy/sell behavior for stocks that comprise the S&P 500 sectors. All three sectors increased between January and February, with energy increasing from 7.92% to 14.85%, according to the report.

Courtesy of Morgan Stanley's E-Trade

Going deeper

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"The resilience of demand-driven inflation means the Fed might have to raise rates closer to 6% to get inflation back to target."

—Bank of America economist Aditya Bhave warned in a note the Fed may need to hike rates to anywhere between 5.25% and 5.5% to return inflation back to the targeted 2% increase year on year, and the Federal Reserve will have to "keep raising rates until it finds the point of pain for consumer demand," Fortune reported

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