WSJ CFO Journal: Early Data Point to CFO Pay Hikes Last Year

WSJ CFO Journal: Early Data Point to CFO Pay Hikes Last Year

March 31 2015

By Maxwell Murphy

As proxy season gets under way, a sneak peek at the early filers reveals the median pay package for chief financial officers is on pace to have risen 8% last year to $2.1 million, according to compensation consulting firm Steven Hall & Partners LLC.

The firm studied 100 CFOs, with at least two years’ tenure, at companies with annual revenue of $1 billion or more.

Those companies include such heavyweights Hewlett-Packard Co., Walt Disney Co. and Carnival Corp., which boosted their CFOs’ pay by 2%, 51% and 168%, respectively, during their most recent fiscal year. Those figures reflect base salary, bonuses and long-term compensation such as stock and options awards.

The base salary for the sample group rose 4% in 2014, up from around 3% the past few years, said Steven Hall Jr., a consultant at the firm.

Performance drove bonuses. CFOs at companies with rising profits enjoyed a median bonus of about $526,000, up 11%. Those at companies with declining profits had relatively flat bonuses.

Stock-price appreciation, coupled with dividends, mattered even more. Companies with a positive one-year shareholder return handed out median cash bonuses of $546,000, up 14% from the prior year. Companies with a negative return trimmed bonuses by 3% to $336,000.