Who got the best 2012 pay raises in finance departments?

Executives who have the top jobs received the biggest pay raises in North American finance departments in 2012, a new survey shows.

Overall, finance department professionals saw their average salaries increase by 3.4% in 2012, according to a report on the 2013 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Compensation Survey.

Amongst three tiers of finance professionals, executive-level employees received an average raise of  3.8%, up from 3.3% in 2011 and the highest since 2008. Management salaries increased 3.5%, and staff salaries grew 3.1%.

CFOs and treasurers, who fall under the executive tier, received 4.3% raises.

“A low interest-rate environment, increased regulations around the world, complex financial technologies and heightened risks are a few of the challenges that treasurers and CFOs face,” AFP President and CEO Jim Kaitz said in a news release. “Their salary increases reflect the level of responsibility that companies place in their treasurers and CFOs.”

Executives also were the only finance professionals who received higher bonuses in 2012 than in 2011, an increase to $57,692 from $56,300. Management bonuses fell to $17,501 in 2012 from $18,700 the previous year, and staff bonuses shrank to $5,014 in 2012 from $5,500 in 2011.

Executive raises outpace those for management

The salary raise data represented a change from the previous year, when management reported the highest salary increase at 3.7%, staff received raises of 3.5%, and executives received the lowest raises, on a percentage basis, at 3.3%.

One piece of data in the survey that bucked the trend of bigger raises for higher-level jobs was the 4.7% raises reported for assistant cash managers, a low-level management position. That was the highest raise reported for any position.

The overall 2012 pay increase of 3.4% was slightly higher than the 3.3% reported the previous year. The survey took place in February 2013 during a time of modest improvement in the North American economy and reflected the brightening economic environment. Raises from 2009 to 2010, when the region was in the grip of the financial crisis, were no larger than 2.7% for any staffing level.

CFOs reported receiving the highest pay, with a base salary of $206,400 as of January 1st 2013. Their 2012 bonuses averaged $84,512. Entry-level accountants represented in the survey received an average salary of $45,059. More than 4,300 jobs were tracked in the survey.

Ken Tysiac ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.