Financial executives are experiencing a steady rise in salary and benefits, thanks to the improving economy and stiffer competition for top talent, according a new survey.

The survey, by Grant Thornton and the Financial Executives Research Foundation, found that in 2015, the average salary increase for financial executives at private companies is 4.4 percent, an increase from 3.3 percent in 2014. On the public company side, the average salary increase is 3.9 percent in 2015, a 0.5 percent increase from last year. These numbers are higher than overall salary increases in the marketplace (trending at 3 percent)

In an effort to attract and retain talent, companies are offering signing and retention bonuses. Of those, 27 percent reported they are targeting bonuses specifically for retention purposes. The most common offering was a cash bonus (52 percent) as opposed to equity.

“The need to attract and retain strong finance and accounting executives has never been more critical as the recovering economy brings new opportunities for the effective management of financial assets to improve operations, manage growth and successfully position organizations for merger and acquisition opportunities,” said Ken Cameron, a director in Grant Thornton’s Compensation & Benefits Consulting practice, in a sattement. “Facing heightened competition for top financial talent, organizations must ensure that all components of their compensation and benefits packages are designed effectively.”

In addition, the survey found that 84 percent of both public and private company respondents’ organizations said they have a defined contribution plan, while 22 percent have a defined benefit plan. Of those that do, about half restrict new entrants or have frozen benefit accruals.

“Organizations are shifting their focus toward growth, and there is a renewed emphasis on strengthening the finance function and retaining the right talent,” said Financial Executives Research Foundation senior director of research Bill Sinnett. “The increase in salaries demonstrated in this year’s survey results indicates that those in the profession will likely see improved compensation packages in the near future. We are seeing a particular increase in compensation packages for finance professionals at private companies.” 

The complete survey findings are available here.

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