There’s only one Chinese investment to work for if you want to get paid this year – China International Capital Corporation (CICC). While most banks have been scaling back bonuses in the wake of a declining investment banking fee pool, CICC has paid some people up to four times base salary in order to convince them to stick around, according to Caixin magazine.
“I haven’t heard of any other investment bank handing out this sort of bonus this year,” says one Shanghai-based headhunter who asked not to be named. “It’s extremely high.”
Getting 48 months’ worth of salary as a bonus payment is unusual, and it’s only top performers who would have received this, but the average payment at CICC was still between 10-20 months’ salary – much higher than the competition. “It’s still very significant,” agrees Connie Hui, managing director at headhunters Bó Lè Associates.
CICC has been struggling in recent years and in a hard recruitment market, it doesn’t want to lose its best people. The bank was slow to recover from the slowdown in Chinese state-owned enterprises overseas listings in recent years and has been losing some key executives as well as investment bankers lower down the career ladder. Paying generous bonuses may be a way to stem this tide.
But it could also be about rewarding key performers. Last year was something of a return to form for CICC, which played a major role in some high-profile IPOs including the H-share listing of Dalian Wanda. It was also involved in over 60 bond issuances as well, which helped to bolster revenues.
Or it could be simply one last hurrah. CICC is likely to IPO this year and most publicly-listed banks have been both reeling in pay and subjecting bonus payments to deferrals. "Investment banks have cut bonuses, and much were deferred in the form of options," Hui says. This could be the last year CICC get all cash bonuses.