Understanding the true sentiment of bankers is a difficult task, particularly when it comes to pay. No matter the size of bonus pools, bankers habitually think they should earn more than they actually do. This year is no different, with more grumbling about recent bonuses than celebrating. That said, bankers at some firms are more discontented than others. Generally speaking, those in the U.S. and the U.K. fared better compared to their expectations than their counterparts in continental Europe, though there were a few outliers.
The data below comes from salary benchmarking firm Emolument, which surveyed more than 2,500 bankers across more than a dozen firms. Somewhat surprisingly, bankers at three U.K. firms – Barclays, HSBC and RBS – report being rather content with their 2018 bonus. Perhaps U.K. banks are taking care of their own before sending them packing post-Brexit? Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan filled out the top half of the chart, while Citi and Bank of America dragged down U.S. firms as a whole.
Meanwhile, just a handful of bankers at French firms BNP Paribas and SocGen reported being happy with their bonus. That trend may continue considering the most recent league tables. French banks took it on the chin in their own home country during the first half of 2018.
On the other side of the coin, the number of bankers who were unhappy with their 2018 bonus outpace their contented counterparts two-to-one. To no one’s shock, Deutsche Bank led the way with 52% of staffers displeased with their bonus. The bigger surprise, however, was that 26% of Deutsche bankers were actually happy with their bonus. Facing massive layoffs, the German lender has apparently decided to reward top performers it hopes to keep while passing over middling staff. Our own recent survey covering total compensation found similar results, with more Deutsche bankers being satisfied with their pay than one might think.
The biggest statistical outlier is Goldman Sachs, where just 24% of bankers reported being unhappy with their bonus – nine percentage points lower than at any competing firm. Expectations seem to meet reality at Goldman Sachs. Roughly half of respondents were neither happy or unhappy with their bonus.
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