Only 26% of financial services firms are planning to increase hiring in the next six months and nearly half plan to cut bonuses, according to a survey of chief financial officers by Grant Thornton LLP.

The research found that financial service companies are proceeding with caution, with 60% saying they expected to keep their work force at the same level and about 15% expecting a decrease. Jack Katz, a partner at Grant Thornton, said executive compensation remains a "hot button issue," but said some well-positioned firms will increase bonuses to attract and retain key talent.

The CFO survey also found 27% of responders are planning to reduce health-care benefits and nearly one-third are reducing their 401(k) matches. However, 13% of CFOs said they would increase bonuses — 6% higher than the national average. Another 11% plan to boost stock options and other forms of compensation.

Grant Thornton surveyed 846 CFOs and senior comptrollers, of which 63 were from financial services companies.

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