Growth in pay continues for financial executives, but war for talent may be on horizon

Survey from Grant Thornton and Financial Executives Research Foundation cautions industry that it will take more than pay to keep execs engaged

"The demand for experienced financial and accounting executives is stronger than it has been in several years"
CHICAGO, IL --Pay increases for the finance wing of the C-suite rose at a healthy 4 percent, according to the Financial Executive Compensation Survey 2016 issued by Grant Thornton LLP and the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF). While employers across the board project average pay increases of 3.1 percent (according to the WorldatWork 2015-2016 Salary Budget Survey), the Grant Thornton/FERF survey results include a note of caution: With a battle for talent likely looming, it might be more than pay that wins the war for financial executives.

“The demand for experienced financial and accounting executives is stronger than it has been in several years,” stated Ken Troy, a director in Grant Thornton’s Compensation and Benefits Consulting practice. “Companies need to pay attention to changes in the competitive market for talent. They also need to have a clear strategy that defines how they will best attract and retain the executives in these key roles.”

Highlights from the full report include compensation data for numerous top financial positions. Among the findings, chief financial officers at public companies report an average base salary of $303,975 and $229,895 for the corporate controller position. Their counterparts in private companies report lower average base salaries: $217,509 for the chief financial officer and $161,374 for the corporate controller.

Ken Cameron, a director in the Compensation and Benefits Consulting practice, articulated the need for a total compensation program that goes beyond pay alone. “Especially as the economy strengthens, organizations – both public and private – need to have reward systems that are clearly defined, appropriately designed, and take into consideration more than just base pay. If companies can’t include stock, they need to know if long-term cash bonuses make sense. If they can’t create a compelling cash compensation offering, they can look at changes to their benefits programs such as 401(k) matches to make up the difference. Organizations should also consider the positive impact of addressing culture issues as well.”

The report also found 90 percent of executives at public companies are eligible to receive some form of long-term incentives, while of their counterparts at private companies, only 36 percent are eligible.

To read the full survey findings, download the complete 2016 report.

About Grant Thornton LLP

Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. In the United States, Grant Thornton has revenue in excess of $1.45 billion and operates 59 offices with more than 550 partners and 7,000 employees. Grant Thornton works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

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About Financial Executives Research Foundation

Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) is the non-profit 501(c)(3) research affiliate of FEI which conducts objective financial research projects and professional education programs. Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) depends upon the voluntary, charitable contributions of individuals, corporations and local FEI Chapters for funding to realize its mission: to advance the profession and practices of financial management through research and education.

About Financial Executive Compensation Survey 2016

The data for the Financial Executive Compensation Survey was compiled from responses received from an electronic survey of active Financial Executive International (FEI) members from October 2015 through January 2016. An active or executive FEI member is defined as an individual currently holding a position as a financial executive at an organization. The 37-question survey garnered 363 total responses. The response rate from private companies held steady at 67 percent, the same as in 2015. Meanwhile, responses from public companies increased to 25 percent from 23 percent in 2015. The median revenue size for all companies increased to $125 million in 2016 from $109 million in 2015.

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