Median CFO pay increased by 5.2 percent in 2007, to $2,894,275 from the prior year’s $2,752,027, according to a new Equilar study of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies.

The executive compensation specialist noted that median total equity compensation actually jumped 8.2 percent, while median bonus payouts dropped 3.4 percent to bring down the total. The study covered 313 of the S&P 500 finance chiefs in place for at least two years.

The sharp median pay increase contrasts with a 1.3 percent increase in median CEO compensation in the same time frame, recorded in an Equilar study published in April. “The fact that median CFO compensation appears to be rising faster than median CEO compensation may indicate increased prominence for CFOs in the executive suite,” Equilar theorized.

Total compensation includes base salary, discretionary bonuses, nonequity incentive plan payouts, the grant date value of stock and option awards, and other compensation. Stock awards include service-based and performance-based awards. Option awards include service-based awards, performance-based awards, and stock appreciation rights. Other compensation typically includes benefits and perquisites.

Breaking down the numbers from 2006 to 2007, the median base salary for S&P 500 CFOs increased by 9.1 percent, to $525,000 from $481,250.

In 2007, S&P 500 CFOs received a median aggregate bonus of $576,880, down 3.4 percent from the median of $597,263 reported in 2006. In addition, 93.6 percent of CFOs received any form of bonus compensation in 2007, down from 99 percent in 2006.

Aggregate bonuses include discretionary awards, short-term non-equity incentive plan payouts (annual cash bonuses) and long-term non-equity incentive plan payouts (multi-year cash bonuses).

Meanwhile, from 2006 to 2007 the total value of equity awards for S&P 500 CFOs increased by 8.2 percent, rising to a median of $1,523,810 from a 2006 median of $1,408,804. The percentage of CFOs receiving equity grants was nearly flat, registering at 95.5 percent compared to the prior year’s 95.8 percent.

The median value of other compensation for S&P 500 CFOs was $63,152 in 2007, a 9.1 percent increase over the median of $57,890. Meanwhile, for companies with consecutive years of data under the new Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure rules, the median value of accumulated pension benefits for S&P 500 CFOs was $1,061,198, an increase of 17.7 percent over the prior year’s $901,524. The percentage of CFOs with accumulated pension benefits also increased minimally, to 67.4 percent from 67.1 percent in 2006.

For companies with consecutive years of data under the new rules, the median value of deferred compensation plan balances increased by 21.3 percent from 2006 to 2007, climbing to a median value of $779,388. The percentage of CFOs with deferred compensation balances increased to 75.4 from 73.8 in 2007.

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