French banks are not known for their generosity when it comes to compensation. Large American investment banks are typically the most remunerative, followed by the Swiss and Germans, followed by the British.
The remuneration reports just published by SocGen and BNP Paribas lend weight to the notion that French banks are parsimonious. The average regulated 'risk taker' at UBS earned $2m last year. At Barclays he/she earned $1.3m. At both SocGen and BNP, regulated staff were paid considerably less - although they earned more than the £489k (€680k) on offer at RBS.
Nonetheless, there are some important pay differences between the two French institutions. If you're thinking of working for a French bank, in London, Paris or New York, this is what you need to know.
If you want to earn €1m ($1.1m, £720k) at a French bank, BNP Paribas is the place to do it. In 2014, 149 of BNP's regulated staff earned €1m+ compared to just 109 at SocGen. Then again, BNP did have 880 regulated staff compared to just 550 at SocGen - if you're a regulated member of staff at either bank, you have an equal 5% chance of earning seven figures.
Surprise! On a 'whole bank basis' SocGen actually pays more than BNP Paribas when fixed pay and bonuses are factored in. SocGen's regulated staff received an average of €708k in 2014. BNP's received an average of €626k. Be warned, however: pay at SocGen fell 15% last year, while pay at BNP Paribas rose 2%.
Surprise again! Fixed salaries for all regulated staff at SocGen averaged €335k last year. At BNP Paribas they averaged €327k.
Yes, on a 'whole bank' basis, SocGen also pays bigger bonuses than BNP. In 2014, the average bonus at BNP was €298k. At SocGen it was €373k.
While SocGen pays its regulated staff most on a 'whole bank' basis, BNP Paribas pays its corporate and investment bankers the most. The average regulated CIB banker at BNP earned €833k last year, compared to €795k at SocGen.
BNP also pays its investment bankers more generous salaries than SocGen does. The average regulated banker at BNP received a salary of €416k last year. At SocGen, the comparable salary was €375k.
SocGen does, however, beat BNP for investment banking bonuses - but only just. The average SocGen CIB bonus was €420k last year. At BNP it was €417k.
BNP Paribas may pay smaller salaries than SocGen. It may also pay smaller bonuses, but at least it pays those bonuses sooner. At SocGen, 70% or more of bonuses can be deferred and 100% of bonuses worth more than €2m are. At BNP Paribas, deferrals top-out at 60%.
Both BNP Paribas and SocGen pay bonuses that vest over three year periods. However, BNP's bonuses vest in smaller and more increments over that time. SocGen pays 33% of its bonuses in year one, 33% in year two and 33% in year three. BNP Paribas pays on eight different dates in the three year period. If you work for BNP you will get your smaller and less deferred bonus more frequently.