Big bonus disappointment at Citigroup. General happiness at J.P. Morgan

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Do you remember when Citigroup's investment banking employees were riding high on a tide of all-cash bonuses (up to $499k) whilst warmed by words about "competitive" compensation and payment by "ability"?

That was 2014. Things have changed a little since then.

"Citi's bonuses were pretty terrible this year," says one fixed income headhunter in London, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Everyone I've spoken to there seems disappointed."

Citi declined to comment on the state of its bonuses for 2015, but other London headhunters have heard similar tales of woe. "People at Citi are very unhappy," said one FX recruiter, also speaking off the record. "Citi guys are down across FX," said the head of another fixed income search firm. "There are lot more zeroes there than you'd expect. FX people got hit particularly badly, but rates and - weirdly - credit people seem to have done ok."

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Citi had decided to cut its overall markets bonus pool by 5% to 10%.

Away from fixed income (and FX in particular), however, Citi staff are said to be happier.

Junior M&A people at the bank are said to have been paid on a par with last year, and Citi is thought to have paid its equities staff reasonably well in preparation for a new push into equities sales and trading in Europe in 2016. 

It's not just Citi. Disappointment is also said to be pervading Morgan Stanley, where compensation spending in the investment bank was cut by 50% in the final quarter of 2015 and only 10% of staff are reportedly happy with their newly-announced bonuses. 

By comparison, J.P. Morgan's London-based traders are said to be quite content with their lot. "J.P. Morgan hasn't been as bad as the rest," said one fixed income headhunter. "In rates and FX, J.P. Morgan people have done well, although the pool was down 15% in credit," says another. "I think you'll find that J.P. Morgan are top of the street," says a third.

However, the head of one fixed income search firm says Citi's fixed income traders will come to appreciate their bonuses with time. "Citi are one of the first banks to announce. I suspect that once the Europeans have announced bonuses too and Citi's traders see how little the rest of the street is getting, they'll come to a realization that they're not doing too badly after all."

Photo credit: #Flickr12Days: Celebration by Lisandro M. Enrique is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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