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Who’s Asia’s Best Paid CFO? For the First Time, A Woman Tops the Salaries List

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that Sing Hong Fung, the second-highest paid finance leader in Asia in 2015 (total compensation: US$6.6 million), is nowhere to be found in the 2016 list of the region’s best paid CFOs. That’s because he has been elevated to CEO of the Hong Kong-listed integrated logistics and trade centers company. His replacement, Tsoi Yiu Ting, became CFO in May.

You won’t see National Australia Bank’s Craig Drummond, No. 4 last year (US$5.9 million), in this year’s list either. He resigned from the bank in February and was replaced by his deputy, Gary Lennon. Drummond said he joined the bank in 2014 thinking he had a chance to become CEO, but had apparently concluded this is no longer the case. He is now CEO of health insurance provider Medibank Private.

This is the first time that a woman topped the CFO compensation league table. Two other women were ranked No. 7 and No. 27, respectively

There’s a lot of movement in this year’s list of Asia’s Millionaire CFOs and promotion is one of the reasons. Shayne Cary Elliott, No. 10 last year (US$4.1 million), became CEO of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in January, while No. 28 Gordon Naylor of Australian specialty biotherapeutics company CSL (US$2.5 million), was named head of CSL’s new global influenza vaccine business in 2015. David Lamont is the new CFO.

Patrick Chan Kwok-wai (No. 30 last year, US$2.4 million) left Hong Kong’s Sun Hung Kai Properties to rejoin previous employer Hang Seng Bank, this time as Executive Director and Head of Greater China. And Madhu Rama Chandra Rao (No. 36 last year, US$2.2 million) is now Acting President of Shangri-La Hotel Public Company Limited. 

It only reconfirms that finance is one of the best launching pads for the top job, as Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, Scott Davis of logistics giant UPS, Joe Kaeser of Germany’s Siemens AG and Gregory Hayes of United Technologies have shown in recent years.

Out of the Best-Paid CFO List: Where Are They Now?

Asia’s best paid CFOs                                     

And Asia Pacific’s highest paid CFO is . . . Chor Woon Yu (also known as Carol Yu) of Chinese Internet company Sohu.com. According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, which compiled the list for CFO Innovation, she was paid the equivalent of US$9.7 million in 2015 – up 84% from the previous year, on the back of stock awards valued at US$6.9 million.

This is the first time that a woman topped the CFO compensation league table. Another woman, Hon Hing Hui (also known as Susanna Hui), is No. 7 as Group CFO of Hong Kong telco PCCW (US$4.2 million) and also No. 20 as Group CFO of HKT Trust and HKT Limited (US$2.6 million), which is majority owned by PCCW. Combining her compensation for the two jobs effectively places her second to Yu in the league table.

But the long-standing gender imbalance in the top ranks of Asia’s CFOs remains, particularly with the retirement of Australia’s Karen Moses in May – she was previously CFO of Origin Energy and ranked No. 15 last year. (Gary Mallett is currently Acting CFO.) There are only three women in this year’s list, with Xiaoyan Sun of China’s GF Securities joining Yu and Hui at No. 27 (US$1.99 million).

The picture next year may change gender-wise now that the 54-year-old Yu has announced her retirement. But her successor at Sohu.com is another woman, Joanna Lv, who has been named Acting Chief Financial Officer.

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