Salaries for financial executives are increasing at a faster rate than for other industries, according to a new survey by Grant Thornton LLP and the Financial Executives Research Foundation.

The survey attributes the steady rise in salaries and benefits to the overall improvement in the economy and a higher demand for financial executives.

The average salary increase for financial executives at private companies this year 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, an increase from 3.4 percent a year ago. These numbers are higher than overall salary increases in the marketplace, which have held steady since last year at about 3 percent.

“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,” says Ken Cameron, a director in Grant Thornton’s Compensation & Benefits Consulting practice. “Facing heightened competition for top financial talent, organizations must ensure that all components of their compensation and benefits packages are designed effectively.”

According to the survey, 84 percent of both public and private company respondents’ organizations have a defined contribution plan and 22 percent have a defined benefit plan. Similarly 86 percent of public company respondents receive some form of stock-based incentive compensation, compared to 35 percent of private company respondents. The most popular added benefit is a cell phone or cell phone allowance, followed by a company car or car allowance.

Grant Thornton LLP is an organization of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. The survey was based on responses from 346 members of Financial Executives International and Grant Thornton clients.