CFO Pay Drops 4% in 2008

May 6, 2009 ( - According to a new study by Equilar, median CFO pay fell by 4% from 2007 to 2008 to $2,725,791.

An Equilar press release said declines in overall compensation levels were principally driven by a steep drop in median cash bonus payouts, which fell by 22.6% over the same period to $431,300 from a median payout of $557,316 in 2007. The prevalence of CFOs receiving a bonus also dropped from 93.9% in 2007 to 88% in 2008.

Aggregate bonus compensation, the sum of all bonuses for all CFOs, dropped by 26.2%, falling from approximately $287.2 million to $211.8 million, Equilar said.

From 2007 to 2008, the median base salary for S&P 500 CFOs increased by 6.6%, rising from a median of $500,000 to $532,758. Annual incentive plan payouts – which are most directly linked to corporate performance during the year and typically account for the greatest share of bonus compensation – fell by 18.4% from 2007 to 2008. The median annual incentive plan payout in 2008 was $332,800.

In 2008, the median value of CFO stock awards at S&P 500 companies moved upward by 4.4%, rising from a median of $669,001 to a median of $698,400. However, the prevalence of CFOs receiving stock grants was down, falling from 82.5% in 2007 to 80.9% in 2008, according to the press release.

From 2007 to 2008, the value of S&P 500 CFO stock option grants fell by 3.7% to a median of $612,473 from a median option grant in 2007 valued at $635,761. The prevalence of CFOs receiving stock options remained flat at 75.1%.

The median value of other compensation for CFOs at S&P 500 companies was $60,648 in 2008, a 3.9% decline from a median of $63,139 in 2007. Other compensation includes executive perquisites like travel on corporate jets, relocation expenses, financial planning assistance and personal and home security, among other things.

Equilar’s study includes data for 309 S&P 500 CFOs at companies with fiscal years ending between June 2008 and January 2009. To be included in the study, a CFO must have been in place for at least two full fiscal years.