Financial Talent

Cities, States Need Top Financial Talent, but Fall Short on Pay

‘Most good CFOs could make a positive impact,’ Robert Mayer, chief fiscal officer of Fairfield, Conn., and a former private-sector executive, said of government service.  PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER BEAUCHAMP FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

‘Most good CFOs could make a positive impact,’ Robert Mayer, chief fiscal officer of Fairfield, Conn., and a former private-sector executive, said of government service. PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER BEAUCHAMP FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

By MAXWELL MURPHY

 

Help wanted: Top-notch financial talent needed to face intense regulatory scrutiny; no bonuses or equity awards; modest civil servant’s paycheck.

That is not a job that would appeal to most of the nation’s best and brightest financial executives, who enjoy the big cash and stock incentives—not to mention the prestige—offered by the private sector. But states and towns increasingly need such executives to manage bond sales and pension deficits, as they come under closer government oversight.

“Getting people in government is not easy,” said Robert Mayer, chief fiscal officer for the town of Fairfield, Conn. “They’re all making more than the mayor.”

Municipal finance chiefs in the Midwest earn between $85,000 and $160,000, depending on the town’s size and affluence, while those working on either coasts can expect slightly more, said Heidi Voorhees, head of GovHR USA LLC, an Illinois recruiter for the public sector and nonprofit groups. By contrast, the median compensation package—salary, bonus and stock options—for public-company finance executives was valued at $3.57 million, based on proxies filed as of late June.

“It’s always our toughest recruitment,” said Ms. Vorhees.

Adding to the difficulty: Municipalities and for-profit businesses follow very different bookkeeping and budget rules, she said. (Read More...)