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International Experience Boosts CFOs Salaries Says Michael Page

International Experience Boosts CFO’s Salaries Says Michael Page

CFOs who can demonstrate international knowledge can typically command higher salaries

International experience is more essential for CFOs in larger companies

International experience plays a key role for chief financial officers (CFOs) in earning a high salary and is particularly valued by European companies, according to Michael Page’s 2012 CFO Barometer.

The report, which was based on the responses of 4,388 CFOs globally, revealed that the share of respondents who have no international experience is highest in the lower CFO income bracket, and only 30% hold roles in large companies of more than 5,000 employees.

Michael Page Executive Search, managing director, Simon Bell said companies across the board are placing additional responsibilities and pressures on their CFOs to increase profits and growth margins.

“Companies have been experiencing challenging economic conditions which have significantly affected management decisions for some time now. Cash flows and profit margins are heavily scrutinised so it’s the CFO who plays one of the most important and influential roles within a company,” Mr Bell said.

“As a result, European companies are looking abroad for growth opportunities, so it’s no surprise that CFOs who have had firsthand experience of overseas markets are highly valued.

“CFOs who can demonstrate international knowledge typically command higher salaries. In fact, 74% of the CFOs in the highest pay bracket stated that they had some level of working experience abroad,” he said.

Mr Bell warned people aspiring to progress to CFO level that most employers are looking for particular international history, so it is important that the experience is relevant.

“For our clients, international experience means more than spending some time just working aboard. For instance, in a company with an aggressive growth strategy, a CFO must have proven successes to illustrate that they fully understand the costs associated with entering an emerging economy.

“While for an established company looking to take advantage of opportunities in the Asia Pacific region, the most relevant international experience will be candidates who can demonstrate knowledge of cross cultural boundaries, in addition to balancing the development of the company in its home country with enabling growth,” Mr Bell said.

The CFO Barometer revealed there to be two different trends about CFOs who went abroad – the majority either spent a relatively short term of two years or less, or they emigrated for long periods of more than ten years.

“An interesting point can be raised here about the definition of international experience. For a CFO, the value of the experience to a potential employer is not reflected in the amount of time spent in offshore markets, but more so the lessons learned, such as navigating through treacherous financial markets or handling complex global transactions,” he said.

Looking to the short term future, more than half of European CFOs who responded believed that the greatest business opportunities for their company were not in their own region.

“This allows them to be less reliant on the regional markets, or affected by regional economic difficulties. As a result, despite the European depression most CFOs described their own companies as doing relatively well.”

Other key findings from the 2012 Michael Page Barometer include:

Six out of 10 CFOs have spent time working aboard

20% of CFOs responded expect to become a CEO by 2014

European CFOs have a younger median age than the international average: almost half the respondents were younger than 35 when they became CFO

Financial services companies pay their CFOs the highest salaries with 25% earning in the top pay bracket

CFOs in European regions tend to speak more languages and have more overseas experience than American or Pacific regions. Apart from English, 35% of European CFO’s speak French, 26% German, and 18% Spanish


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