Majority of Bonus Payouts Were Flat or Lower Than Last Year, eFC Survey Indicates

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Bonus payouts to Wall Street professionals didn't keep pace with 2009's dramatic profit rebound for many large institutions, eFinancialCareers' annual bonus survey reveals.

Less than half the respondents (46 percent) reported receiving a larger bonus than a year earlier. Another 23 percent received the same bonus as last year, while 31 percent said their bonus was smaller this time around. A year ago, many financial professionals saw their bonuses slashed as the industry struggled for survival amid the global financial crisis.

The survey results are in line with banks' quarterly financial results released during January. Those reports showed a number of bulge-bracket firms posting record profits but holding down compensation to appease public opinion, presumably by reducing amounts they had allocated for bonuses earlier in 2009.

Results Parallel October Survey

The results were marginally more upbeat than eFC's similar survey last October, in which more that 1,000 registered users were asked to forecast how their 2009 year-end payout would differ from 2008. At that time, 43 percent expected a larger amount than 2008, 25 percent expected the same as 2008 and 31 percent expected a smaller payout.

In the January eFC survey, nearly half (47 percent) of sell-side employees reported being either "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with their compensation, while 37 percent said they're displeased. Those who work on the the buy side, however, split evenly between dissatisfaction and satisfaction - both totaling 42 percent of buy-side respondents.

The Wall Street specialties taking home the highest bonuses were investment banking, followed by private equity/venture capital, fund management/hedge funds, trading, and debt/fixed income.

Nearly 850 registered users of eFinancialCareers' U.S. site responded to the online survey, administered from Jan. 4 - 13, 2010. To be included in the results, users indicated their 2009 bonus was revealed to them and they are currently employed.

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