Just don't expect to get promoted

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In any normal downturn, banks might offer promotions in consolation for failing to offer large bonuses. This time, however, things are different.

It looks like banks have given up on the notion of consoling people: bonuses are small and promotions are almost inexistent.

"There were a lot less promotions this year than there would normally have been and quite a few performers at associate level didn't get promoted," says a newly crowned VP at one US investment bank. "The reality is that over the bull market they recruited a lot of people who were below their normal calibre and those people were promoted purely to stop them from leaving.

"In this environment, there's no need to promote people - you're just increasing your cost base," he adds.

Morgan Stanley is among the banks said to have held back on promotions. Earlier this month it announced the promotion of 133 people to managing director. Back in 2006, there were 228 MD appointees.

Barclays Capital is also said to be creating ripples in New York over an alleged failure to honour promotions promised to some people at Lehman. "People are really peed off," says one ex-Lehman insider. Barclays declined to comment.