Financial executives of both public and private companies are continuing to get higher salaries as the economy improves, according to an annual survey released Monday by Grant Thornton LLP and Financial Executives Research Foundation.

The average salary increase for financial executives at private companies is 4.4% this year, compared to an average increase of 3.3% in 2014, the survey found. For public companies, the average salary increase is 3.9% in 2015, compared to an average increase of 3.4% a year ago.

Financial executives’ pay is increasing at a higher rate than the overall marketplace, where the average salary increase was flat, at 3%.

“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,” Ken Cameron, a director of Grant Thornton’s Compensation & Benefits Consulting practice, said in a news release.

“Facing heightened competition for top financial talent, organizations must ensure that all components of their compensation and benefits packages are designed effectively,” he added.

On the benefits side, the study found that 84% of both public and private company respondents have a defined-contribution pension plan and 22% have a defined benefit plan. For those companies that provide health insurance, the average percentage paid by the employer was 72%.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • More than three-fourths (86%) of public company respondents receive some form of stock-based incentive compensation, compared to just more than one-third (35%) of private company respondents.
  • Of the 77% of executives who reported receiving perks, the most popular was a cell phone, cell phone allowance or reimbursement (81%), followed by a company car or car allowance (19%), paid parking (17%) and health/fitness club dues (12%).
  • Of those companies that offered a sign-on bonus, 27% said it was for retention purposes. Bonuses more frequently took the form of cash (52%) as opposed to equity.

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