New research from the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) shows that despite a struggling economy, compensation for financial professionals in 2007 outpaced that of the national work force as a whole.

According to the AFP’s 2008 Compensation Report, financial professionals reported an average annual salary increase of 4.5 percent – more than 36 percent higher than the national average – and bonuses averaged 15 percent of their base salaries.

According to a press release issued by AFP, between January 1, 2007 and January 1, 2008, executive level financial professionals received the highest percentage increases in base salaries among all categories of treasury/finance professionals and staff. On average, executive level financial professionals garnered a 5.1 percent salary increase during the 12-month period studied.

The average increase for management positions was 4.8 percent, and staff level financial professionals averaged salary increases of just below 4 percent.

The survey also indicated bonuses could add significantly to a financial professional’s total compensation package. On average, financial professionals received bonuses equivalent to 16 percent of their base salary in 2007.

Additionally, the survey cited there are “substantial” salary differences between those professionals with advanced degrees and those without. On average, professionals with an MBA earn an average salary 19 percent higher than do their counterparts who hold just a bachelor’s degree.

Other factors that determine salary compensation include increased job responsibility, certifications (such as the CTP, CPA, CIA, or CFA), contribution to profitability, job location and type of industry.