Chief financial officers offered some strong opinions on the Securities and Exchange Commission's proposal to expand disclosure of executive compensation, according to the first quarter "CFO Outlook Survey," conducted by Financial Executives International and Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business.

Seventy-one percent of survey respondents are generally behind the SEC's proposal, though 64 percent are against the House version of the bill, which would require shareholder approval of executive pay packages. The third that would approve such a bill, either outright, or under certain circumstances, was weighted towards private companies.

FEI president and chief executive Colleen Cunningham said the questions on executive pay drew some of the strongest comments in recent survey history. "In general, respondents acknowledged the problem of excessive compensation, but felt responsibility for its control lay with the board and its compensation committee, rather than via additional regulation," she said.

The survey's index of economic optimism trended upward for the second consecutive quarter, while the index of individual company optimism also crept up to the highest level in almost two years.

More than three-quarters of the 200 CFOs surveyed expect their companies to hire more people over the next year, at an average increase of 4 percent. Three out of four chief financial officers also expect their companies to increase capital expenditures, with the increase averaging 7 percent.

The full survey results, including chief financial officers' thoughts on defined pension benefits, are available at

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