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Bonuses are down. Cash bonuses are up.

Don't get too excited about the bonuses at NatWest Markets

As results season continues, today is the day for results at the NatWest Group. Ostensibly, things look pretty fine for the rump of top traders at NatWest Markets. On closer look, however, their compensation for 2021 isn't that great. 

While the NatWest Group increased its overall bonus pool by 44% last year, pay for the 129 top traders classified as material risk-takers in the markets division appears to have shrunk. Today's pay disclosure reveals that they earned average total compensation of £654k in 2021, versus £699k in 2020. 

This was probably unsurprising given that NatWest Markets made an operating loss of £711m last year thanks to a seemingly disastrous time in the fixed income trading business. However, traders at the business might still shed a small tear, given the extravagantly high pay on offer elsewhere. 

It could have been worse. NatWest Markets jettisoned 20 of its senior traders last year, so there were fewer people to receive a bonus pool that was down nearly 6% for top traders. The cash component of last year's payouts was also up considerably - from an aggregate of £0.2m in 2020 to £13m for 2021.

As the chart below shows, NatWest has looked after most of its high earners, but at the very top end of its pay scale, several people appear to have disappeared.

Traders have been leaving NatWest Markets as it clamps down on risk taking. As we reported last week, Owen Coughlan the former  head of euro swaps trading, has gone to Eisler Capital. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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