They say it's lonely at the top, but for many professionals it may also be lonely on the way there, according to a new survey.

Fifty-eight percent of chief financial officers in a recent poll by staffing firm Accountemps said they have never had a mentor, either formally or informally. Among executives who worked with mentors during their careers, more than one-third (35 percent) said that the single greatest benefit was having a confidant and advisor.

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees.

The other greatest benefits of having a mentor were cited as providing insight into a particular field or industry (27 percent), providing encouragement (21 percent) and providing introduction to key networking contacts (12 percent)."While talent and dedication are sometimes all that are required to advance professionally, having a mentor can help pave the way to career success," said Accountemps chairman Max Messmer, in a statement. He added, "These relationships don't have to be formal, new employees can learn from observing those they admire and periodically seeking their advice."

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