Anticipation Outshines Fears as Bonuses Approach

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Despite talk of a possible downturn next year, and word that some banks may use annual performance reviews to prune their less-than-stellar performers, all eyes are on the money as banks begin to report their earnings and award their bonuses.

Ah, yes. Bonus season.

Yesterday, Financial News reported that this year investment banks will cut more staff than at any time since 2002 during annual performance reviews, and will slash bonuses for underperforming staff as a way of encouraging them to move on. At the same time, their best performers will be more generously rewarded.

Associates at major investment banks could see median bonuses between $275,000 and $400,000, depending on their seniority, performance and employer, according to estimates in the New York Post. A top-performing vice president could receive about $925,000, while managing directors at the top of their game could wind up with $4 million.

The Post says investment banks are determined to hang on to top performers, sometimes guaranteeing their bonuses for several years. Even some associates are getting such treatment.

Among other highlights of the Post's findings:

  • Directors/senior vice presidents can expect bonuses of between $550,000 to $1.3 million, depending on their performance, seniority and bank.
  • Associates from the Class of 2005 could gain between $250,000 and $350,000.
  • Group heads could see bonuses of $2.5 million on the, er, low end to $6.5 million on the high end.

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