Nearly 80 percent of employers are paying higher salaries to recruit and retain their key accounting and finance staff, according to a new report.

Ajilon Finance released its 2008 Salary Guide, in collaboration with CFO Research Services, and found that 78 percent of the surveyed CFOs said their companies had increased their compensation levels more than 3 percent in the past six months to hold onto their key employees. Demand for talented accounting and finance staff continues to be high.

"The salaries are definitely increasing across the board," said Andrew Ernst, regional vice president of Ajilon Finance. "For accounting and finance we're seeing jumps up to 10 to 15 percent, not only internally, but they're also getting substantial raises when leaving a job to go to another company."

Financial reporting and analysis were the most sought-after skills, followed by SOX compliance management; planning, budgeting and financing; and FASB/GAAP expertise.

Forty-six percent of the 500 CFOs surveyed expected their compensation would increase by 5 to 10 percent in 2008. "They know if they don't get increases, their competitors will," said Ernst.

Average salaries for CFOs at large companies in the Northeast ranged from about $120,000 to $184,000. For an accounting manager at a large company in the Southwest, the average salary range was between $65,000 to $86,000.

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