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Banks Prepping to Dodge Bonus Caps

If you work in finance, Thursday was likely a bummer. Preliminary European Union rules on bonus caps were approved, sending shockwaves across the global financial world. Now, banks are prepping to do what they do best: attempt to circumvent those rules.

If the preliminary rules are approved by EU member states and the European Parliament, bonuses will be capped at 100% of base salary starting in 2014. Bonuses could rise to a maximum of 250% of salary with shareholder approval.

If you’re working in the U.S. or Asia, don’t start smirking. The rules are likely to affect senior-level employees making investment decisions at European lenders who are stationed outside of the EU – a situation that would likely create a nightmare for global banks and their employees, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Fortunately, bankers have two things going for them. One, as eFC reported yesterday, the caps will have little impact on the majority of bankers, as most rarely receive bonuses that more than double their base salary.

In addition, employers are reportedly actively hunting down ways to skirt the rules, should they go into effect, according to Financial Times. The most obvious way is to increase base salaries, a move that, yet again, would create a major headache for regulators who are trying to make bankers more accountable. The more money that is given up front, the less that can be clawed back, or deferred and attached to performance metrics. Plus, higher salaries could give banks less capital, the opposite of what regulators want.

Another idea being discussed – according to FT – is the concept of a “rolling contract,” where salaries vary each year depending upon performance, essentially changing the definition of what a bonus is.

Bear Market, Bernanke and Communist China (eFinancialCareers)

Douglas Coté, chief market strategist at ING Investment Management, is bearish on the market, and he wasn’t afraid to make his argument to a room full of traders this week. Get defensive, he told them. That and a lot more.

Status Quo (eFinancialCareers)

Man Group, a hedge fund that has laid off lower-paid support staff in technology functions and elsewhere, has largely kept headcount in its investment management unit stable, despite an $837 million impairment charge.

New Job (Financial News)

Yesterday we told you Greg Tusar, head of electronic trading at Goldman Sachs, is leaving the investment bank after 13 years. Now we know why. Tusar will reportedly head to Getco later this year after the firm completes its acquisition of Knight Capital.

‘Smaller and More Focused’ (NY Times)

After posting a massive $9 billion loss in 2012, Royal Bank of Scotland plans to sell off part of U.S.-based RBS Citizen Financial Group Inc. and take a sharper axe to its investment bank. No word yet on the number of expected job cuts.

Not All About the Benjamins (Financial News)

RBS chief Stephen Hester may have lost as much money giving up his previous job than he has made in the four years of showing up to his current gig.

The Comeback Kid (NY Post)

Dan Zwirn, the 42-year-old founder of now defunct hedge fund D.B. Zwirn, has cleared his name. Now he’s eyeing a comeback, and has reportedly made two high-level hires.

Buzz Around the Office

Lending a Hand (MSN)

A Florida man is behind bars after calling 911 to report that his tools had been stolen – tools that he just used in an attempted robbery and left at the scene.

List of the Day: Interview Tips

Nervous about a big interview? Here are a few tips to maximize your chances.

  1. Ask more questions than you answer.
  2. Steer the interview to where you want it to go.
  3. Smile and be enthusiastic.

(Source: Glassdoor)

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

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