I’m a Canadian CFO Working Overseas – What Can I Earn When I Get Back Home?

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Straight Answers to Real Questions



Question: I’m a Canadian CPA CA working in Israel where I’m the CFO of a $200mm industrial concern with subsidiaries in Europe and Africa. I got my CA designation with E&Y in 1998 and had six years’ experience as the controller and then VP Finance of a mid-sized manufacturer before I moved overseas. I’ve enjoyed the eight years I’ve spent here but my wife and I are missing Canada (if not the winters) and want to return home. My current remuneration is a base salary (converted to CAD) of $265,000 plus a performance based bonus that could reach 30%.

I’ve given myself up to a year to find a suitable position, preferably in the GTA. Some people have suggested that since I’ve been out of the Canadian market for so long I should consider a lesser position and a cut in pay in order to make the transition back to the Canadian market. I’d really like to move forward with my career, not backward, and earn around the same as I’m making now – is that realistic?

Answer: I don’t see why not. You’re a Canadian citizen with essentially the same qualifications and experience as any of your GTA based peers in equivalent CFO positions. In fact, I’d even make the argument that your international experience gives you a leg up on most of your peers. Most $200mm industrial companies based in the GTA will be paying their CFO something along the lines of what you’re earning now so I’d say you’re right in the ballpark.

I’m guessing that the people suggesting you consider a pay cut to move back to Canada are Canadians and not European or Israeli. It’s an odd thing, but some people deem that experience garnered outside our borders is somehow not as relevant as its Canadian counterpart. Of course, you’re going to have to compete on your own merits when CFO opportunities arise and manage the logistics of looking for a job from 9,000km away, but you should be competing on a level playing field.

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