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Unlike its European rivals, Credit Suisse squeezed its high performers.

Credit Suisse bonuses skewed away from high earners

Credit Suisse released its 2020 compensation report today, and unlike UBS or Deutsche Bank, it appears to have made its bonus allocations more democratic.

While UBS and DB paid bumper-payouts to their highest earners and best performers, Credit Suisse cut bonuses for everyone, but cut bonuses and total compensation for its highest earners the most. 

A group of 1,438 material risk takers and controllers (MRTCs), defined as the highest earning 150 employees across the group, plus individuals taking material risks on behalf of Credit Suisse and others, saw an 11% decline in their average total compensation in 2020, from CHF1.3m ($1.4m) in 2019 to CHF1.2m last year. 

Over the same period, the average bonus paid to MRTCs who actually got a bonus went from CHF753k to CHF638k, a drop of 15%. Fewer MRTCs at Credit Suisse received zero bonuses last year, however: in 2019 46 of them got nothing; last year just 25 did.

While Credit Suisse trimmed the pay of its high earning MRTCs it also trimmed the pay of its average employee, but by a lot less. Excluding MRTCs, average compensation at the bank last year was CHF175k, down just 1% on 2019.

Credit Suisse's parsimony stands in contrast to UBS, which increased average bonuses for its key risk takers by 50% last year. Deutsche Bank was also most generous to those at the top of its tree: the bonus pool for its material risk takers rose by 64% last year, compared to 46% increase in the bonus pool for the bank as a whole. 

Credit Suisse's 2020 compensation strategy appears more akin to that of HSBC, which cut compensation for its material risk takers last year, and is thought to have focused on keeping its more junior staff happy.

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Photo by Kike Salazar N on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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