CFO salary: finance executive compensation in 2023

Elizabeth Dulcich photo
Elizabeth Dulcich

Published on May 6, 2024


Salary discussions are still considered taboo in most of the professional world, even in 2023. Due to this culture of silence around salaries, professionals are often left in the dark about what their colleagues and industry peers earn. Without a clear benchmark of what others are earning, finance professionals may be on the losing end of salary negotiations.

To shed light on CFO and finance salaries, we conducted a survey of almost 1,000 CFO Connect members from all over the world for the third year in a row.

The subsequent CFO Salary Benchmark found pay disparities between countries, genders, and ages among various roles in finance. This article covers a selection of the report’s findings, which should prove useful in salary negotiations in all finance positions. Let’s dive in!

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CFO salaries in different countries

CFO Connect is a global community with members all over the world. This survey focuses on finance leaders from Europe and North America, and shows the stark differences in pay expectations.

CFOs in the United States receive the highest salaries of those surveyed, by a huge margin. French finance leaders earn less than half of what their U.S. counterparts make.

And while French CFO salaries saw a 5% increase from 2022 to 2023, they're still significantly behind the rest of Europe.

Salaries have risen overall

Compared to our survey last year, salaries across in general have increased for finance leaders. UK salaries, however, remained stagnant, and German salaries decreased compared to 2022.

Now that we’ve seen the discrepancies between countries, let’s take a closer look at salary differences between finance roles.

How various finance roles are compensated

Of course, how finance experts are paid depends on their specific title and/or role in the company. Predictably, CFO and VP Finance roles tend to earn the highest salaries, whereas Accountants, FP&A Managers, and Finance Managers are at the lower end of the salary scale.

However, company hierarchy doesn’t always dictate salary. Historically, a VP of Finance wouldn’t earn more than a CFO, although our data suggests differently. For the second year in a row, VP Finance roles out-earned CFOs.

There could be several factors influencing this trend in our survey results: negotiation skills, job title inconsistencies between countries or regions, and company size.

Another outlier is the FP&A Manager role. Salaries increased by almost 25% for this position from 2022 to 2023. This could possibly be a reflection of the current economic climate. Professionals who have the skills to analyze data and forecast scenarios will be in high demand -- especially for companies looking to survive an economic downturn.

The gender pay gap: a career-long issue

Finance is still a male-dominated field, especially in the upper levels of company hierarchy. And that disparity clearly carries over into salaries. Our survey found that women earn 12% less on average than men in finance roles.

Not only is this gender pay gap consistent across all finance roles, but it exists even at the start of women’s careers. Young women in finance (18-30 years old) earn 17% less on average than their male counterparts.

Interestingly, our survey found a surprising reversal: in the 51-60 age range, women seemingly earn more than men. It's unclear whether this is a quirk of the survey, or an emerging trend in finance salaries for women deep into their careers.

While the gender pay gap may be closing, progress is slow. The fact that men and women start out on unequal footing that lasts for their entire careers means there is still work to be done.

Company size is a determining factor

CFOs’ salaries grow alongside the size of the company. CFOs at large companies earn almost triple that of CFOs at small companies.

The relationship between company size and CFO compensation probably doesn't come as a shock. Understandably, the bigger the company, the larger the finance team. CFOs of large companies have bigger teams and more people to manage.

The economic situation is taking a toll

The economic landscape is quite different now than it was last year. Rounds of layoffs in tech and other industries have set both company leaders and employees on edge. And finance professionals are no exception.

The vast majority of respondents acknowledge that the economic climate impacts their mental health.

UK professionals are most likely to be impacted, with 81% reporting at least some effect from the current climate. 74% of French finance workers feel the same way, compared with 75% of Americans and only 63% of Germans.

Main takeaways from the 2023 CFO Salary Benchmark

CFO and other finance experts’ salaries can vary widely according to geographical location, age, role and, unfortunately, gender.

We understand that salaries can be a touchy subject. Our CFO Salary Benchmark aims to shed light on salaries in finance at every level, to ensure that finance experts can recognize their worth and adequately negotiate their salaries.

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