Bonus Expectations Flat With 2007, eFC Survey Suggests

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Perceived job security and bonus expectations among U.S. financial services professionals declined during the early months of 2008, an eFinancialCareers survey shows.

The proportion of professionals who expect their 2008 bonus will be smaller than last year's nearly doubled between January and March, according to separate surveys of U.S. registered users of eFinancialCareers. In the more recent poll conducted in late March, about as many respondents (23 percent) said they expect a smaller bonus as expect a larger bonus (25 percent) this year compared with 2007. In a similar survey in January, just 12 percent foresaw a smaller bonus for 2008, versus 27 percent who expected their bonus would be greater than in 2007. The remaining respondents were either unsure about this year's bonus or said it would be about the same as last year.

The collapse of Bear Stearns clearly influenced the results. Asked whether the Bear Stearns events and other "news of Wall Street financial troubles" affected their bonus expectations, 47 percent said they were more worried about their bonus. Fifty percent said they felt about the same, and 2 percent said they were more optimistic now.

On a question about job security, 34 percent said the news about Bear and "Wall Street financial troubles" has made them less confident about keeping their job. Forty-eight percent said the news didn't affect their job confidence, 4 percent said they were more confident, and 14 percent said they'd already lost their job.

A majority of respondents (58 percent) in March said they expect to seek a new job this year. That figure was little changed from the January survey. Among those who were planning to job-hunt in March, about one-quarter said Bear Stearns and other troubles in the industry this year either spurred them to start the process or figured in their decision, while the rest said their plans preceded Wall Street's latest problems.

Numbers from both surveys reflect only those respondents who said they received a bonus for 2007. The January survey found that respondents' median bonus was $40,000 and the mean was $95,000. One-quarter said they received more than $100,000, including 3 percent who reported a bonus greater than $500,000. Total compensation showed a median of $140,000 and a mean of $205,158.

More than 1,200 eFC users answered the March survey, while a separate group of more than 1,600 users answered the January survey. The number of responses included in the tallies above was smaller, after filtering out inconsistent answers and respondents who said they got no bonus for 2007.

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