The outlook isn’t good for CFO pay in 2003, according to the 2003 Salary Guide released by Accountemps, a finance staffing division of Robert Half International. The annual guide is based on data from placements by Robert Half finance and accounting recruiters.

Despite strong gains in salary in recent years, the survey predicts that most average starting salaries for finance department workers will remain flat next year. For the most senior finance-function jobs — read CFO, treasurers — salaries are expected to decline.

Indeed, the average starting salaries for CFOs and treasurers at midsize companies ($250 million to $500 million in annual sales) could drop by up to 3.6 percent.

In fact, at mid-sized companies, the higher the finance position, the bigger the hit for starting salaries. Those in manager roles will see small increases, but those increases get smaller further up the ladder. Supervisors may see small gains of around 2.9 percent overall; assistant controllers and assistant treasurers might gain up to 2.2 percent overall. Controller salaries are expected to start 1.9 percent higher, and base pay for general, audit, tax, and cost-accounting managers will likely go up 1.7 percent overall.

The news is worse for finance directors at larger companies. According to the report, starting pay for top finance talent at businesses with $500 million or more in annual revenues could fall by as much as 8.6 percent, bringing salaries to the range of $125,000 to $184,000.

At small companies, base compensation for payroll supervisors will be four percent higher than in 2002, the biggest increase for any single position in corporate accounting. Assistant controllers and assistant treasurers at small firms will see starting salaries increase an average of 2.7 percent over last year. Average starting salaries for directors of accounting at companies with $50 to $100 million in annual sales will increase 2.6 percent, bringing base compensation to between $75,500 and $103,250 per year.

These same positions at large companies ($500 million or more in annual sales) should see average starting salaries of $90,750 to $114,250, a 2.5 percent gain over 2002. Base compensation for general, audit, tax and cost accounting managers at large companies is projected to stay flat, which means a range of $59,000 to $78,750.

Where can finance professionals find the most jobs? Demand is expected to be strongest in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors.

CFOs on the Move

Kleenex tissue maker Kimberly-Clark Corp. said CFO Jack Donehower is retiring at year’s end. Donehower joined Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark in 1982 and became CFO in 1993. Company directors elected Mark Buthman, now VP of finance, to replace Donehower as SVP and CFO. Rodney G. Olsen will become VP of finance. Olsen currently holds the same job for the company’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa… Bob Cobuzzi starts work today as CFO Akamai Technologies Inc. Cobruzzi joins the E-business software maker from Network Plus, a broadband company… Robert Bishop was named CFO and chief information officer of Minneapolis-based Harmon AutoGlass. He was previously VP of materials for and MIS for Stant Corp.

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