More than half of financial executives are still not receiving salary increases even as the economy slowly recovers.

A recently published annual survey by Financial Executives International found that while many executives are still reporting bonus awards, increases to average base salaries that were awarded during the past year were significantly less than those awarded in the previous year. The profession has also fallen victim to job cuts, with respondents indicating a drop in finance staff, compared to the past four years of the survey.

Private company finance functions reported much more stability than their public company counterparts in terms of staff levels. An additional shift in compensation was evident when salary increases between private and public companies were compared.  While traditionally public companies have awarded higher salary increases, the average salary increase for public and private companies was identical for the first time in the four years the Financial Executive Compensation survey has been conducted by FEI. 

The estimated average base salary increase of all respondents is 2.1 percent — a decrease from 2009's low of 3.7 percent. Of the 1,100 financial executives surveyed, 57 percent stated that they did not receive a salary increase in 2010.

Nearly half the survey respondents are CFOs. While salary increases were the exception, 96 percent of the public and private company CFOs reported receiving a bonus this year. The number of respondents who received an additional cash-based long-term incentive award increased for the first time in the four years the survey has been conducted. For the fourth year in a row, the base salaries of public and private company CFOs remained proportionate to their companies’ annual revenues.

For public company CFOs, the average base salary for 2010 is $285,000, a decrease from the average of $296,800 in the 2009 survey. After factoring in bonuses and long-term cash incentives, the average total cash compensation is $480,877. Adding stock-based compensation, retirement and perquisites, the average total compensation is $680,407. Bonuses for public company CFOs vary across the board.  While a fraction reported no bonus, about 8 percent of respondents reported a bonus that exceeds 100 percent of their base salary.

For private company CFOs, the average base salary for 2010 is $204,800, an increase from the prior year’s survey, which was $199,600. After factoring in bonuses and long-term cash incentives, the average total cash compensation is $285,044. Adding stock-based compensation, retirement and perquisites, the average total compensation is $367,311. Bonuses for private company CFOs also varied across the board.

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