Gap between CEO and CFO Pay Growing

August 31, 2011 ( - Middle-market CFOs earn an average of $927,743, around 40% of CEO pay ($2,338,874), according to an analysis of 600 public companies conducted by BDO USA, LLP.

Both groups saw significant pay increases, with CFO pay up 19% and CEO pay up 25% over last year. A press release said pay also varies greatly by industry, with real estate CEO and CFOs both earning the most of any industry at $3,362,145 and $1,295,864, respectively. This is about three times the average pay of the lowest-compensated CEOs and CFOs in the banking industry at $1,037,685 and $442,425, respectively. Other top earners include executives in the technology and energy industries, while retail execs joined those in banking on the low end of the pay spectrum.   

“CEOs have always earned significantly more than other executives, but we have seen an even greater divide in recent years due to an increase in CEO pay leverage tied to the performance of their company’s equity,” said Randy Ramirez, a Senior Director in the Compensation and Benefits Practice at BDO, in the press release. “We expect CFO pay to start catching up within the next few years as the emphasis on pay-for-performance trickles down to other top executives.”   

The findings are from the first edition of The BDO 600 CEO and CFO Pay Study, which examines the CEO and CFO compensation trends in publicly traded companies with annual revenues from $25 million to $1 billion in the energy, health care, manufacturing, real estate, retail, and technology industries; and publicly traded companies with assets between $50 million to $2 billion in the banking and financial services industries. The study included proxy statements that were filed between 5/15/2010 and 5/15/2011.   

BDO also publishes the BDO 600 Survey – Board of Director Pay Study that includes Board of Director compensation for the same 600 public companies.   

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