After three straight years in which CFO compensation rose more than CEO pay, finance chiefs saw that trend reversed in 2013.
Median total direct compensation, including salary, annual bonus and the grant-date value of long-term incentives, was up 5.2% for chief executives last year, compared to just 3.2% for CFOs, according to the latest annual study by Compensation Advisory Partners.
The study included 92 companies with revenue of at least $1 billion that filed their 2014 proxy statements by March 31 and have had the same CEO and CFO for at least three years. Median revenue for the studied companies was $8 billion.
Finance chiefs actually outpaced their bosses in salary by a fair margin and long-term incentives by a smidgeon, but CEOs enjoyed a wide gap in their favor in the annual-bonus category. “There is more variability year over year in short-term incentives, and CEOs tend to have more of their pay delivered through performance-based elements,” says Kelly Malafis, a partner with Compensation Advisory Partners. “So when performance is good, as it was in 2013, that piece is impacted at a higher rate.”
This year, the consulting firm for the first time included financial services firms in its compensation appraisal. They’d been excluded since the initial study in 2009 because pay practices in that sector were changing. Such practices have stabilized over the past two years, the firm says, so 23 financial-services firms were part of the mix.
They didn’t have much influence on the results, which were less than 1% different than they would have been without the financial firms, according to Compensation Advisory Partners.
CFO pay hikes were greatest last year in the industrials sector, where median total direct compensation climbed by 6%. Next came the materials and information technology sectors at 5%. CFO earnings were flat to plus 1% in the consumer staples, consumer discretionary and health-care sectors.