You can still become extravagantly and immediately rich working for hedge funds

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Hedge fund pay is down 10%, apparently.

This is not surprising, what with this being a terrible time for hedge funds and even John Paulson having a troubling year.

But it's not that bad. 10% is not a big drop in pay. At JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and UBS, pay is down an average of 17% year to date.

Recruiters also insist that although macro hedge funds are doing badly, most others are still hiring and still paying. "We are having one of our best years in terms of the number of placements we're making and the value of those placements," says Barry Seath at hedge fund-focused Mirage Recruitment. "Pay is about the same level as last year," he insists.

Surprisingly perhaps, Financial News says around 70% of hedge funds were above their high water mark at the end of the third quarter, suggesting a similar proportion should be able to pay bonuses this year.

Hedge fund recruiters say bonuses continue to make up the bulk of hedge fund pay, with many multiples of salary remaining the norm. It's very rare for hedge funds to pay salaries in excess of 200k and many cap fixed compensation at 120k, even for senior staff.

As we reported in August, under the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, which comes into force in 2013, all hedge funds may be obliged to defer compensation for risk taking staff by three to five years. However, this could be mitigated for small hedge funds and for hedge funds which designate their risk takers as 'partners.'

For the moment, recruiters say deferrals remain very unusual in the hedge fund sector. "Most of the hedge funds we work with still pay bonuses that are multiples of compensation on a non-deferred basis," claims the director of one search firm.

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