Bonuses May Be Up for Most, But There's Still Plenty of Unhappy Bankers

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While a majority of Wall Street professionals saw their bonuses rise in 2010, a substantial minority received cuts and are looking to jump ship in search of bigger paychecks.

Fifty six percent of those responding to the latest eFinancialCareers Global Bonus Survey reported they took home more in 2010 than in 2009. The survey polled professionals who are bonus-eligible and know the amount of their annual bonus.

That said, average bonuses in the U.S. dropped 5 percent year over year, the survey found. So no surprise, there are plenty of unhappy bankers around. Nearly one in five (19 percent) saw their bonuses decline in 2010, and 8 percent received no bonus in the past year.

Lesser compensation could spur a wave of personnel moves in 2011. Nearly half (45 percent) of the respondents are either looking to change firms or seeking for new positions within their current firm. But the survey indicated that changing firms is no guarantee of a higher bonus: Fifteen percent of respondents noted that switching employers was the top reason they experienced a decline in their bonus. (On the other hand, 12 percent credited moving to a new employer for their bonus increase.)

As usual, bonuses depended in part on the respondent's line of business. Average bonuses were higher in 2010 than 2009 for individuals specializing in investment banking, foreign exchange, derivatives, research and private equity. By comparison those working in fund management, risk management and commodities received lower compensation on average. And bonuses paid to those in the front office were typically three times higher than those given to professionals in middle and back offices.

Compared with the small decline seen in average U.S. bonuses, Asia-based financial professionals experienced a substantial year-over-year increase in compensation, with an average bonus increase of 22 percent. Average bonuses in the U.K. rose 5 percent.

But there are plenty of dissatisfied bankers overseas as well. Over 40 percent of U.K. and Asian respondents said they're looking to change firms in 2011. An additional 17 percent of Asian survey respondents hope to change positions within their current firm.

The eFinancialCareers Global Bonus Survey was conducted in the U.S., U.K., Australia,

Hong Kong and Singapore between January 3 and January 12, 2011 Some 2,511 bonus-eligible financial markets professionals participated. About 40 percent (1,009) were from the U.S.

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