Half of Wall Street Employees Expect Bigger Bonuses

Almost half of Wall Street employees expect their year-end bonuses to be higher this year than they were a year ago, according to an eFinancialCareers.com survey.

Of the 911 U.S. financial professionals who responded to the e-mailed survey, 48 percent anticipate a higher payout, up from 41 percent in a similar survey last year, the job-search website said today in a statement. Employees of hedge funds and other asset managers were more optimistic than those at banks and broker-dealers, according the statement. Of the respondents, 82 percent work for U.S.-based companies.

“The mood is better, some people will be happier, but we still have another quarter to go,” Constance Melrose, eFinancialCareers.com’s managing director in the Americas, said in a telephone interview. “People are less pessimistic than they were a year ago.”

Wall Street’s five biggest banks, which set aside money throughout the year to pay annual bonuses, reported their worst first-half revenue since 2008. That’s reduced the estimate for bonuses from earlier in the year, compensation consultant Johnson Associates Inc. said in August.

Just 27 percent of the people surveyed said they expect bonuses across the industry to rise in the next three years, while 31 percent see no change and 42 percent anticipate declines, according to the statement.

“It is possible for individuals to say, ‘I think I’m going to do well this year, but overall I think in general the industry is not going to experience the same lift over time,’” Melrose said.

2011 Bonuses

Wall Street employees took home an average cash bonus of $121,150 in 2011, according to calculations released earlier this year by New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The financial industry lost 4,300 jobs between April and December 2011, the report showed.

Of those who expect a bonus increase this year, 41 percent said the primary reason was their personal achievements, 12 percent attributed it to their department’s performance and 26 percent to their firm’s success, the survey found. The rest said they had a different job, their pay structure had changed or market conditions were better.

The survey found that, of those who expect pay increases for the industry over the next three years, 53 percent anticipate a return to bonus levels set in 2006 and 2007, record years for Wall Street.

The central worry for Wall Street workers is the U.S. economy, with 59 percent saying that it has the biggest potential negative influence on financial-services compensation, according to the survey. Ten percent said Europe’s debt crisis is the biggest concern and 12 percent chose the Dodd-Frank Act that revamped financial regulation, according to the survey.

Important Reasons

Compensation was the most important reason to work in financial services for 44 percent of the people surveyed, up from 39 percent last year, according to the statement. Fifty- four percent said it was “important, but not the most important reason,” down from 59 percent, and 2 percent said it wasn’t important, the same as last year, the survey found.

The survey of employed financial professionals registered on eFinancialCareers.com took place between Sept. 25 and Oct. 3. EFinancialCareers.com is a division of New York-based Dice Holdings Inc. (DHX)

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Harper in New York at charper@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net.

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