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Handkerchiefs, please. Last year may have been a winner for the stock market, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Florida Marlins, but for CFOs and other top finance executives, it was a year of diminishing returns. Total compensation for CFOs–including salary, bonus, stock and options–fell 4.2% in 2003 from the prior year, according to the annual pay survey by Pearl Meyer & Partners, the New York-based compensation consulting firm. That came on top of the 1% fall recorded for 2002, which was the first decrease for finance executives in a decade. And there was plenty of pain to go around: Total payouts to treasurers in 2003 were down more than 6%, and controllers lost a bit as well.

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