Higher Bonuses Expected on Wall Street

Fifty percent of U.S.-based financial services professionals are expecting higher bonuses for this year’s performance as compared to last year, according to a new survey.

Higher bonuses are anticipated with greater frequency by finance professionals working at bulge-bracket banks, long-only asset managers and boutique banks, than at hedge funds, commercial banks, independent trading or research firms and professional services companies, according to a news release from eFinancialCareers, a financial services job site.

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While personal (34%) and firm performance (33%) are the leading reasons for the anticipated bonus increases, 9% of respondents indicated changing employers is the primary reason their bonus will increase more than last year.

“The signs of bonus euphoria may be hard to find, but Wall Street employers will have to deal with professionals who believe they are in contention for fatter paychecks and the inevitable retention issues should their expectations be dashed,” said Constance Melrose, Managing Director, eFinancialCareers North America, in the news release. “Recruitment activity on Wall Street is solid and talented professionals always have options particularly in compliance, risk management, technology and operations.”

The majority of Wall Street professionals (61%) indicate that money, while important, isn’t the most important reason they work in financial services.  Thirty-seven percent say compensation is the most important reason to work on Wall Street, while 2% indicate it’s not important at all.  

Results in Asia

More financial services professionals in Asia are expecting a bonus hike.  In Hong Kong, 71% of those questioned are anticipating a bigger payout, along with 69% of financial services professionals in Singapore.   Likewise, 57% of finance colleagues based in the U.K. are expecting a higher bonus.  However, Germany slightly trails the U.S., with 47% of financial services professionals anticipating a bonus increase versus last year. 

For many, the expected bonus increase will be significant. In the U.K., nearly one in five (17%) of all those surveyed believe their bonus will be over 50% higher than last year; and in Hong Kong and Singapore 14% -15% said they will be in line for an increase of over 50%. In the U.S., Germany and Australia, however, a more measured one in ten are anticipating a 50+ percent rise. 

The survey took place in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore between September 15-28, 2010 with 5,671 currently employed bankers and finance professionals responding.  In the U.S., 2,145 financial services professionals responded with 56% of those working in the front office, 26% in the middle office and 18% in the back office.