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

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.

AUTHORChris O'Leary Insider Comment
  • To
    Tom Smith
    4 February 2011

    The article is crafty and shows no data. It's designed to create miscontent. The more miscontent, the more raw fodder for a head hunter to make money. What else do you need to know?

  • Bl
    Blue Horseshoe
    31 January 2011

    Hard to say just who it is participated on this thing, but one question comes to mind: Really?

    1. At the time of the survey very few, if any, banks (investment or otherwise) had announced compensation.
    2. Ask any headhunter/recruiter out there: Comp. pools were down well more than 5% across Equities and FICC in all the bulge bracket banks across geographies. All of them.
    3. Look at bank earnings statements. Compensation pools were, broadly, down.
    There's simply NO way any "majority of Wall St professionals," however that's defined, earned more money this year than last. Even those whose total compensation was unchanged year on year got, in all likelihood, a smaller bonus given that salaries were generally higher.
    Not that anyone feels sorry for "Wall St professionals" but the headline and article is misleading.
    But then again: "A bare majority of the few Wall St. folks who answered our survey conducted so early in the comp. process so as to be meaningless say they got a bigger bonus than last year" wouldn't have gotten the story picked up by the Wall Street Journal now, would it?

  • Ro
    Rosalie Bonura
    28 January 2011

    To hell with the bonus I was laid off from a investment bank in 2008 and I still haven't found a job. I've tried everything and nothing except 2 interviews in the whole 2 years that I've been laid off. I could care less about a bonus just give me a job.....

  • Sh
    28 January 2011

    I echo Mohamed. Retail banking has been in the tank. Try no bonuses, base increases, 401(k) match, ESOP contribution, long-term incentives for the past 2-3 years for many of us. It's all gone.

  • an
    27 January 2011

    Try being bonus eligible, your division made a huge profit, your company has record profits- 2 yrs in a row..... and not you still get nothing both years? Wall Street is full of blood sucking monsters. They caused all of this mayhem and they are still enjoying the fruits of their destructive ways.

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