Banks Put Off Bonus Decisions

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With the mess that Wall Street's in, it's hardly surprising that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are delaying bonus decisions beyond their usual October time frame.

Both institutions "are putting off their October meetings on bonuses until they have greater clarity about the fourth quarter," the Financial Times reported last week.

Goldman, Morgan and other banks are widely expected to award sharply lower bonuses to most employees this year, with the bulk of the money concentrated among top performers to a greater degree than in years past.

Goldman, for instance, accrued 32 percent less for compensation over the first nine months of its fiscal year compared with the same period a year ago, according to the FT. Morgan Stanley accrued 20 percent less than last year. Among European bulge brackets, during this year's first half Credit Suisse compensation expense within its investment bank division fell 43 percent year-on-year, and UBS's investment bank compensation dropped 50 percent.

Bonus expectations are poised to drop still further if the industry's downward spiral that continued into this week sparks further rounds of layoffs by year-end. A survey issued Monday by the Confederation of British Industry and PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast an additional 12,000 financial services job cuts between now and Christmas.

"The bulk of this year's bonuses is likely to be paid in restricted shares to retain cash and top employees," the FT story says.

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