Amidst the gloom surrounding bonuses, one positive point has so far been overlooked: most US banks pay in dollars and year-to-date the dollar has appreciated more than 20% against the pound.
There are mitigating factors: dollar payouts are typically restricted to staff at VP level and above, and with US interest rates falling the dollar’s recent gains may yet be at least partially reversed.
But for the moment, at least, the pound’s weakness is something to celebrate. “The bankers I’ve spoken to are quite happy about the exchange rate,” says one headhunter.
The head of HR at one US firm says staff were given the option to hedge the impact of exchange rate fluctations on their bonus by averaging monthly rates starting from January, but that 75% wisely decided to go for a spot conversion in December.
With bonuses likely to be down at least 30%, he points out that the exchange rate effect won’t completely offset the reduction in pay. But it could make it a lot more palatable.