U.K. Bankers Anticipate a Pay Rise, Ernst & Young Says

About 41 percent of U.K. bankers expect a pay increase this year as Britain’s economy recovers, according to a survey by Ernst & Young LLP.

Some 80 percent of participants expect a better economic development in the second half, with 71 percent signaling optimism that the performance of their bank will improve, the study by the accounting firm showed today. Forty-nine percent of bankers forecast an increase in headcount.

Some of Britain’s biggest banks have been criticized by lawmakers over pay, and shareholders of HSBC Holdings Plc, Barclays Plc and Standard Chartered Plc registered protests at annual meetings this year. Lenders have argued they have to offer competitive packages to attract skilled employees.

“After so much negative coverage of recent pay awards, bankers in the U.K. are acutely aware of the sensitivity of this issue,” Steven Lewis, lead global banking analyst at Ernst & Young, said in the statement. “However, banks operating in London compete in a global market for talent.”

Of the 41 percent, all bankers predicted gains to exceed average wage inflation, with 12 projecting at least 10 percent, according to the survey. Only bankers in the Netherlands and Spain were more optimistic regarding remuneration, forecasting increases of 43 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

“Banks will need to be able to justify any significant increases for individuals, or risk criticism from shareholders and politicians,” Ernst & Young said.

Ernst & Young questioned 294 senior bankers from 11 European countries between March and April, the firm said.

(An earlier version of this story corrected the dateline and the reference to consumer-price inflation.)

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