Investment bankers to get biggest checks in decade as Wall Street bonuses jump – report

FILE PHOTO: A man wears a protective mask as he walks on Wall Street during the coronavirus outbreak in New York City, New York, U.S., March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Most Wall Street workers can expect double-digit increases in bonuses this year compared to 2020, while investment bankers could see the biggest checks in roughly a decade, according to a report by compensation consulting firm Johnson Associates Inc.

Last year, Wall Street bonuses were flat-to-down due to the economic hit from COVID-19 lockdowns, but this year’s bounce back shows that financial executives feel their businesses have recovered since the pandemic wiped $21 trillion off the markets between February and March last year, Johnson said.

“The industry has performed at a level that last year we thought was impossible,” said Alan Johnson, whose report is closely watched by financial professionals.

Investment bankers will take home the biggest bonus checks in around a decade, thanks to an unprecedented surge in deal making this year, he estimates. Bankers who do underwriting work could enjoy a 30-35% increase in their 2021 bonus, while bankers who handle advisory work and equity sales and trading professionals could get 20-25% increases, he estimates.

Asset managers, hedge fund and private equity workers could see increases of 10-15%, while fixed income traders, retail and commercial bankers should expect bonuses to be flat, Johnson said.

The analysis is based on second quarter results from 10 asset management firms and eight major investment and commercial banks. Banks will communicate and begin paying out bonuses to staff from January next year.

In recent months, big banks have stepped up pay for investment bankers, particularly first and second year workers, to compensate them for a workload that is grueling even by industry standards.

While money is nice, it may not be enough to make staff happy, said Johnson.

“It’s not really all about the money,” he said. “They feel overworked with no end in sight.”

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