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UBS' bankers might have had their most stressful year yet.

UBS bonuses: Back to 2017

UBS’ annual report is out – and the bank’s heavy hitters took a heavier hit than other staff in the past bonus round.

The Swiss bank has taken a significant chunk out of its senior banker pay after a difficult year. Although net profits were slightly up (by 2%), the bank saw a nearly $1bn decline in revenues, which was only offset by a $1.1bn decline in operating expenses – mostly personnel-related, although there was also a marked decline in “litigation, regulatory, and similar matters.”

The bank identifies Key Risk Takers (KRTs) that “control significant amounts of the firm’s resources” or “exert significant influence over its risk profile.” This category also (automatically) includes all employees with a compensation over USD2.5m, meaning that it covers a significant number of the investment bank – a similar but more elevated category to Standard Chartered or HSBC’s Material Risk Takers.

Pay for KRTs declined substantially in 2022. Although their number remained steady, their fixed compensation (salaries) as a whole fell by 8%, and their variable compensation (bonuses) fell by over 20%. Total compensation in total fell by 17%.

Average pay per KRT was a similar story, with the bank’s big shots registering the biggest decline in compensation since at least 2017 – even bigger than the decline in 2019, which was driven by a miserable performance in the investment bank – a bigger fall than the one in 2021 related to the Archegos scandal, or the even the pandemic in 2020.

The overall "group performance award pool" at the bank declined by 10% - from $3.7bn to $3.3bn - indicating that the nearly 699 KRTs were taking the brunt of cuts for over 74,000 UBS employees.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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