Sydney starting to pay up

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Bankers on Wall Street and in the City of London are expecting bumper bonuses this year. How does the Sydney market compare?

Quite well, seems to be the answer. Australia may have a market cap of just US$854bn - 20 times smaller than the US, but our research suggests financial services salaries in the market punch above their weight.

According to the office of New York State Comptroller, Alan Hevesi, finance salaries in New York City now average around US$290,000 ( AU$374,000), while the average bonus for Wall Streeters is another US$125,000.

City of London bankers also appear to be doing well for themselves. Figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research suggest London payouts, bonuses and salaries included, averaged AU$256,000.

No such tabulated figures exist for Australia. AXISS, an Australian Government financial services centre, says the sector is too nascent to be able to quantify salaries readily: "at the interesting level, they are deal-dependent."

But Amanda Williams, director of financial and professional services with recruitment firm Hudson, tells us salaries are powering for investment bankers, equity analysts and fund managers, from graduate levels of about AU$50,000 with small bonuses to chief investment officer levels of AU$450,000 with bonuses of up to 200 per cent.

Associate director Elizabeth Roberts of recruitment firm Michael Page, which publishes salary surveys, says the market is top heavy, with salaries less evenly distributed than overseas. "There are fewer deals, but the really big ones skew the top-end salaries, but the market is buoyant and firms are hungry for employees who would expect a bonus of at least 100 per cent and then performance add-ons as well."

To keep staff, drawn by big foreign salaries, companies offer options "in a big way" to lock senior people in long-term,

Ms. Roberts says.

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