Will you really get a bonus this year?

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It doesn't take a genius to see that bonuses will be down for 2008. Most of you still expect to get something, however. Whether this is totally realistic is open to question.

Our survey of 691 site visitors between 23rd September and 12th October 2008 (ie, coincidental with Lehman and the birth of TARP, pre-the EU bailout) showed that 68% of people still expect to receive some kind of bonus this year. Of that 68%, 32% expected their bonus to rise or remain the same.

The most bullish bonus expectations were in evidence in private banking and wealth management, where a respective 48% and 43% of respondents expected bonuses to be static or rise.

The most bearish were in credit, capital markets and hedge funds, where 50%, 45% and 42% of respondents respectively expected to receive nothing.

The prevalence of zero bonuses will depend upon whether banks decide to keep everyone happy by spreading bonus cash as widely as possible, or whether they decide to focus payments on top performers to the misfortune of everyone else.

It seems likely that they'll go for the first option. "Overall, banks are expecting bonuses to be down around 50%," says John Axworthy at Odgers Ray & Berndtson. "Top-ranked people will stay relatively stable, but there will be a lot more people on zero or minimal bonuses."

If this is the case, 30% on zero bonuses could be optimistic. Some put the figure closer to 50%.

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