CFO Salary Guide for 2023 - CFO Recruiters - Cowen Partners

      2022 CFO Salary Guide

      The Wall Street Journal published a list of the five highest-paid CFO’s late last year. The list cited high power executives, including:

      • Safra Catz at Oracle Corp. ($108.3 million)
      • Ruth M. Porat at Alphabet Inc. ($47.3 million)
      • Luca Maestri at Apple Inc. ($26.5 million)
      • Michael Fleisher at Wayfair Inc. ($23.6 million)
      • John P. Nallen at 21st Century Fox Inc. ($20.8 million)

      These numbers are a far cry from the national average CFO salary. According to Payscale, the average CFO will receive a salary of $133,000.00. 

      Regardless of the total dollar amount, however, we must delineate salary from total CFO compensation. As the complexities of company management expand, so too do the kinds of rewards. Total compensation is an umbrella term that encompasses both a base salary as well as additional benefits, bonuses, stock shares (in publicly traded companies), and perks. 

      Average CFO Salary & Compensation - Top CFO Search Firm
      Average CFO Salary

      Cash bonuses are often commission-based or tied to specific performance benchmarks while perks come in the form of golden handcuffs or golden parachutes, which incentivize an executive to stay for a particular amount of time or guarantee them financial compensation upon the end of their tenure respectively.

      General Electric’s Carolina Dybeck Happe holds an $8 million golden handcuff agreement the conglomerate and Stanley O’Neal, Merrill Lynch’s former CEO, famously pocketed $161.5 million from his golden parachute agreement. 

      How do you develop a competitive and compelling CFO compensation package that will bring the best, most qualified talent to your company?

      The top CFO recruiters at Cowen Partners Executive Search break down the most essential factors to consider here, so you can craft competitive offers and attractive CFO compensation packages, based on several role- and company-specific factors.

      CFO Salary Depends on Location

      The age-old real estate saying holds true in the case of understanding and allocating CFO compensation. While CFO paychecks are inexorably intertwined with the broader company structure, current financial status, and trajectory, geographic location makes a tangible impact on their salary- just as it does for any other company employee. The regional differences in the cost of living and economic opportunity correlate to CFO salary. 

      To put this into context, a CFO in Keya Paha, Nebraska, can expect the lowest CFO salary ranges in the country to start at $284,250 and a compensation package totaling $354,259. An average CFO in San Francisco, however, needs nearly double that salary to live and work. The average San Francisco CFO salary rises in proportion with the cost of living and comes in at $451,070 with total compensation of $724,006.

      The price variations based on geographic location may or may not decrease as we resume commerce in a post-pandemic world. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that he’s letting employees work from home forever, even after COVID-19 is eradicated. These kinds of financial-saving decisions might close the regional pay gaps in CFO compensation packages, should they be adopted by other organizations. Cowen Executive Partners stays abreast of developments like these and evolves our CFO consulting services to accommodate shifts in the market. 

      Beyond physical location, each company has a unique approach to financial structure, commerce, success, work ethic, and values. We take all of these ideas into consideration when matching CFOs to open positions, but the financial structure is the second major determinant of a CFO’s compensation. 

      CFO Salary Depends on the Company

      While cites the median base salary of a CFO in the United States as $362,030, and the median total compensation package (including bonus, healthcare, and retirement) as $506,386, each CFO is compensated differently depending on the company in question. Non-profits, private companies, and public companies all compensate their executives differently and in proportion to their previous and potential earnings. 

      According to, the average CFO salary by company revenue is:

      • $194,354 as a base salary for CFOs in private companies with less than $20MM in annual revenue
      • $237,983 as a base salary for CFOs in companies with between $21MM and $99MM in yearly revenue

      Tack on benefits and bonuses, and you can expect to shell out somewhere between $225,000-$275,000, depending on business size. 

      CFOs of public companies make about 45% more than their private company counterparts, with their average salary coming in at about $267,976. CFOs of non-profits, in contrast, take home an average of $133,576 per year. 

      Simplify & Expedite the CFO Search & Hiring Process with Cowen Partners 

      Finding and hiring the right CFO is an arduous process that demands individualized attention, thorough research, and the right connections. In fact, a 2015 survey by Jobvite showed that while average jobs are filled in 43 days, it takes an average of 71 days to fill a C-level position and 76 days for a position with “director” or “vice president” in the title.

      Why? Because a CFO creates a vital partnership with company management and cultivates leadership within a company hierarchy to develop financial policies and guide an organization towards success in the marketplace. Plenty of companies opt for an interim CFO service and take their time with the recruiting process. However, time doesn’t guarantee a smart, successful CFO hire.  

      Cowen Partners Executive Search is a leading CFO search and consulting firm with years of experience and expertise recruiting CFOs and other C-suite professionals, including chief executive officers, chief revenue officers, VP of sales, and more. We are committed to understanding your company culture, needs, and financial goals to fulfill and facilitate the CFO hiring process. We have hundreds of top-talent connections and a tireless attention to detail that helps companies find the right CFO in a fraction of the time without significant company disruptions. 

      Top CFO Search Firm | Cowen Partners Executive Search

      Our hands-on CFO executive recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion.

      Cowen Partners delivers 3X more qualified candidates than the competition. Through our proven retained executive search process, we find, vet, and deliver the top 1% of candidates for positions across the C-suite. Our process works for all industries, including technologyhealthcaremanufacturingretailreal estatefinancial servicescredit unionsprivate equity, and more.

      Cowen Partners is the nation’s leading CFO search firm, driven to create value for our clients. Read more of our industry-leading retained search resources to see why Cowen Partners is a top CFO search firm, including tax and accounting leadership, in New York City, Chicago, SeattleAnchorage, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond:

      Cowen Partners is proud to provide the highest quality executive recruitment services to all major and minor industries, including (but not limited to):

      Accounting, Advertising, Aerospace & Defense, Biotechnology, Banking, Credit Unions, Board and CEO Services, Computer Hardware, Construction, Consulting, Consumer Products, Computer Software and Hardware, Education, Energy & Utilities, Entertainment & Sports, Finance, Financial Services, Food Products, Government, Human Resources, Health Care, Hospitality & Tourism, Insurance, Industrial, Internet & New Media, Legal, Tax, Crypto, Bitcoin, Private Equity, Journalism & Publishing, MarketingManufacturing, Medical Device, Non-Profit, Pharmaceutical, Private Equity, Commercial Real Estate, Retail & Apparel, SalesTechnology, Telecommunications and Transportation.

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