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Seasoned financial professionals are usually held in high regard, yet, historically, even those in executive-level positions have trailed the deal guys where pay is concerned.  All that’s changing now, apparently, and an extraordinary demand for seasoned candidates to fill CFO, chief accounting and other senior roles has emerged.  This has been due in part to the need to navigate the still-new and increasingly complex world of Sarbanes-Oxley, as well as the simultaneous need to meet the reporting demands of institutional investors and joint-venture partners–also an outgrowth of SOX. Professionals with proven track records are sought-after these days, fueling a sharp increase in compensation. Once upon a time, premiums were paid only for CFOs who had capital-markets experience in addition to core accounting skills. Today, premiums are being paid to individuals who have “been there and done that” in the accounting arena and successfully dealt with Sarbanes and other current reporting issues. Based on a review of proxy statements from 106 public REITs, made by Steven Hall & Partners, an executive compensation consulting firm, median total compensation (base, bonus and equity) for REIT CFOs as of December 2005 was $920,011, a 29% increase over the prior year.  That is on top of a 26% increase a year earlier.

Anthony J. LoPinto is CEO of Equinox Partners, an executive search firm specializing in the real estate industry, and parent company of SelectLeaders

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