Have risk bonuses been ring fenced?

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The rumour doing the rounds in risk circles is apparently that risk bonuses are going to be spared the ravages of the market.

"Risk has been ring fenced," says David Butter, of risk recruitment firm GRS Consulting. "Most people expect bonuses to be slightly down, but not nearly to the extent of other areas. Some operational risk teams have had the best years of their careers."

Needless to say, such optimism may be misplaced. Adrian Marples, a risk specialist at search firm Sheffield Haworth, says it's not universal: "Most people were expecting to be paid 25% down - and that was before Lehman."

Marples says there's not a whole lot of hiring going on in risk right now. But Butter begs to disagree: "Counterparty credit risk has been the big area of recruitment this year. We are expecting operational risk to be big next year."

Jonathan Baines, chairman of Whitehead Mann, which headhunts at the upper echelons of the risk spectrum, says banks are certainly keen to retain risk talent, but that risk is not ring fenced from reality: "Every risk manager is up to their eyes in work at the moment but no-one is immune from cost reduction."

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