International experience plays a key role for chief financial officers in earning a high salary and is particularly valued by European companies, according to a new survey of financial executives.
Michael Page International's 2012 CFO Barometer--based on the responses of 4,388 CFOs globally--reveals that the share of respondents with no international experience is highest in the lower CFO income bracket, and that only 30 percent without such experience hold roles in companies of more than 5,000 employees.
Simon Bell, managing director of Michael Page Executive Search, says 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," he says. "Cash flows and profit margins are heavily scrutinized so it's the CFO who plays one of the most important and influential roles within a company."
As a result, continues Bell, "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. Those who can demonstrate international knowledge typically command higher salaries.
"In fact, 74 percent of the CFOs in the highest pay bracket stated that they had some level of working experience abroad," he adds Bell also says those who aspire to the CFO chair must understand that most employers are looking for particular international history, so it is important that the experience is relevant.
The survey also revealed two different trends involving 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 10 years.
"An interesting point can be raised here about the definition of international experience," notes Bell. "For a CFO, the value of the experience to a potential employer is...