Rank and File Accountants Did Pretty Well in 2009

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The latest study on compensation by the Association for Financial Professionals shows that, yes, the weak economy continues to drag salaries for financial professionals. But the news wasn't necessarily a reason for despair.

Compared with last year, the average compensation increase, including bonuses, fell by a full percentage point. The survey was conducted in February and was based on responses by treasury, finance and human resources professionals at about 2,000 companies.

Despite the lower comp, many financial professionals continued to collect hefty bonuses. Bonuses made up 14 percent of compensation, compared with 15 percent for each of the past two years. On the other hand, many companies opted to dole out their bonuses in the form of stock options.

Most telling about bonuses, perhaps, was the basis upon which they were awarded: the operating income of EBITDA targets, rather than on the completion of specific projects. In other words, if you want to maintain your comp - and advance - you'd better add to the company's bottom line.

And, while financial professionals' salaries outpaced the national average, the biggest increases went not to those in the C-suite, but to the rank and file accountants. They saw higher base salary increases (2.7 percent) than executives and managers (2.5 percent).

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