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Survey: Nearly 3 in 4 Financial Executives Received Salary Increases in 2011

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Seventy-four percent of financial executives received an increase in their salary in the last year, compared to 66% in 2011 and 43% in 2010, according to a new report.

Grant Thornton LLP, Chicago, and the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), Morristown, N.J., disclosed these findings in a summary of results from a sixth annual survey of financial executives’ salaries. The study reports the salaries, bonuses, long-term incentives and retirement benefits of CFOs, corporate controllers, treasurers and other financial executives in the U.S. among public and private companies. Nearly half of the respondents are CFOs.

The data for the survey was compiled from responses received from a 38 question survey sent via email to active members of Financial Executives International in November and December 2011 and January 2012, with 714 members completing the survey.

While the estimated average salary increase was 4%, versus 3% last year, public companies were awarded a slightly higher increase than private companies, the survey says.

“Executive compensation programs across all types of organizations continue to evolve in response to factors such as the economic and political climate, increased scrutiny by shareholders and the media, and compliance-driven increases in program transparency,” says Marie Hollein, president and CEO for Financial Executives International (FEI). “The findings from this year’s survey are reflective of slight improvements in the economy, resulting in a loosening in compensation restraints.”

The majority of public company corporate CFOs (88%) and private company CFOs (82%) received an annual bonus, according to the 2012 survey. The average base salary for public company corporate CFOs is $286,500, an increase from the prior year’s average of $277,400. After factoring in additional cash-based, long-term incentive awards, the average total cash compensation for the public company CFO is $459,301.

The average base salary for private company corporate CFOs, is $197,400, slightly less than last year’s average ($206,900). After factoring in additional cash-based, long-term incentive awards, the average total cash compensation for the private company CFO is $277,979, the study says.

Related to areas of non-salary and bonus compensation, key findings from the 2012 survey include:

Nearly four in five respondents (79%) participate in a defined contribution plan with a matching contribution from their employer; and consistent with last year’s results, the average employer match is 4% for both public and private companies.

The “perks” financial executives report receiving have remained stable during the last couple of years, with 79% receiving a cellphone, 25% an airline club membership and 22% a company car or car allowance.

Only 9% report receiving a country club membership and relocation assistance; and just 2% receive housing and other living expenses.

Only a 26% of financial executives receive a long-term cash incentive, with nearly half (48%) of those executives reporting that it comes as some form of stock-based incentive compensation.

The most common performance measurements used to determine the incentives are base salary (67%) and company goals and objectives (41%), with the use of Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) increasing to 33% from 20% in 2011.

The complete survey results can be found here.