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CFO & Financial Leadership Barometer: Compensation & Benefits Highlights – What do financial leaders around the world earn?

  • Dutch CFOs earn less than CFOs in the Middle East (which pays the highest salaries), the United Kingdom and Ireland, Asia Pacific and North America
  • CFOs from the Middle East receive the highest average salary in the world
  • The United Kingdom awards the highest bonuses
  • Women earn on average 16% less than men, and their bonuses are a staggering 22% lower
  • CFO salaries are significantly higher in large companies than in small businesses

Amsterdam, 4 August 2015 - Comparatively, Dutch CFOs earn less than CFOs from the Middle East, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Asia Pacific and North America.  This is revealed in the Michael Page CFO Barometer, a survey of 2,847 financial leaders in 70 countries. In the Barometer, Michael Page focuses on the compensation and benefits of CFOs, their changing expectations and their priorities, among other aspects.

Geographically, South American and European CFOs earn less, which is in line with the regional economic situation. At the sector level, banking and real estate pay the highest salaries, while pay is at its lowest in industry and the public sector.


According to Michael Page’s Barometer, 40% of CFOs across the globe are prepared to relocate to another country in order to earn a higher salary; 37% are even prepared to cross an ocean for this purpose. This is understandable: on average a CFO from continental Europe makes around EUR 114,700 a year, which is less than in North America (EUR 143,700), Asia Pacific (EUR 150,600), the United Kingdom (EUR 152,200) and the Middle East (EUR 170,700).  

Young financial leaders are much more mobile than their older colleagues: 92% of CFOs aged 35 or below are prepared to travel long distances or relocate. This percentage drops to 78.3% for female respondents.

Bonuses as a means to attract the best financial leaders

Bonuses are the highest in the United Kingdom, with an average of 18.4%, followed by North America (18.3%) and Asia Pacific (17%). British bonuses are the highest in Europe, particularly in the banking sector and despite the European guidelines that came into force in the Netherlands on 1 January 2015, whereby bonuses are limited by law to a maximum of 20% of annual salary.

Mischa Voogt, Managing Director at Michael Page, comments: “As an important financial centre, London blocked this decision for a year because of concerns that the limitations imposed by Brussels might make the European banking sector less competitive compared to other financial centres, which could then attract the best CFOs with attractive salaries and share options.”

Women still receive lower salaries and bonuses than men

Another finding which emerges from the survey is that female CFOs receive significantly lower remuneration. They earn an average of 16% less and their bonuses are a whopping 22% lower than those of their male colleagues. In the Netherlands, women in financial services earn 70.2% of the salary of their male counterparts, according to data from the CBS, representing a significantly larger gap than the international average.

The research also reveals that the average salary of financial leaders in the Netherlands is EUR 128,300. Therefore, there is no significant difference with the global average of EUR 125,000. The average annual bonus in the Netherlands is 16.3% of annual salary. This is slightly more than the European average of 15.6%.