Bonus satisfaction - Which firm staff are the happiest ?

Smile Aleksandra P

Here's a league table.

Emolument.com has analysed 1,640 bankers' bonuses and asked how the recipients felt about the bonus amounts they received.

Results show American banks still lead the remuneration race with the highest payouts, and that most bankers are unhappy with their latest bonus.

2017 - median salaries and bonuses
Front office bankers

  Continental European banks UK banks US banks
Job titleSalaryBonusSalaryBonusSalaryBonus
Analyst £50,000 £7,000 £50,000 £5,000 £58,000 £20,000
Associate £80,000 £30,000 £90,000 £32,000 £90,000 £45,000
VP £119,000 £60,000 £115,000 £60,000 £135,000 £100,000
Director £164,000 £90,000 £170,000 £115,000 £174,000 £155,000

Continental European banks: BNP Paribas, Commerzbank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, ING, Santander, Societe Generale, UBS, Unicredit
UK banks: Barclays, HSBC, RBS, Lloyds
US Banks: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley

The Atlantic divide: While British and continental banks offer their junior employees similar packages (analysts earn £57,000 and £55,000 respectively), US banks pay out more than their European peers across all seniority levels (US bank analysts earn £78,000).

Different cultures, different pay structures : American banks emphasise the incentive element of the pay package compared to continental and UK banks to attract and retain talents. At VP level, bonuses account for 42% of total compensation at US banks, versus 33% at continental European banks.

... And that is not all : Widening the pay gap even further is the fact that promotions are handed out earlier in bankers' careers at American banks compared to European banks.

Are you happy with your 2017 bonus?

BankUnhappyUnsureHappy
JP Morgan 30% 42% 28%
RBS 33% 40% 27%
Barclays Bank 42% 32% 26%
Deutsche Bank 61% 14% 25%
Morgan Stanley 39% 36% 25%
UBS 45% 31% 24%
Societe Generale 47% 30% 23%
HSBC 47% 32% 21%
Bank of America Merrill Lynch 44% 36% 20%
Credit Suisse 52% 28% 20%
BNP Paribas 50% 31% 19%
Citigroup 47% 34% 19%
Goldman Sachs 46% 38% 16%

What would it take? Even at the 'happiest' bank (JP Morgan), only 28% of employees are pleased with their bonus. Not a single bank shows a proportion of satisfied bankers above 50%.

It is not (just) about the money: Bankers gauge the value of their bonus in the context of their team's as well as their bank's performance: those RBS bankers who received a bonus are more likely to feel happy about it, as the atmosphere at RBS had been strained in recent years, with a shrinking bonus pool due to the bank's poor results in 20161. At the other end of the spectrum, Goldman Sachs performed better than expected in 20162, despite which its bankers appear to think their bonus did not do justice to such a great vintage.

Transparency, a key to happier could help: Our results show that across all banks bar one, bankers are most likely to be unsure of how they should feel about their pay than happy. Many would be happier with their bonuses if banks were more transparent about their remuneration policy, blasting through the intense paranoia surrounding bonus amounts.

Alice Leguay, Co-Founder and COO at Emolument.com said: 'While stringent regulations have capped bonus amounts substantially in the last 10 years, the banking industry is still by far the best paying sector with many bankers earning close to 100% of their annual base salaries, which have been hiked to compensate for a decline in bonus amounts. However, high pay does not allay bankers' frustration with their careers: banking is no longer perceived as a glamorous job, now highly scrutinised and regulated, with many shackled to it in order to fund their existing lifestyles while awaiting the right opportunity to switch to the hedge fund or private equity sectors.'

Source: Emolument, the salary benchmarking site

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