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First bank announces bonuses, and they’re…..fine

RBC bonuses

It’s begun. Fresh from announcing its fourth quarter results a couple of weeks ago, RBC Capital Markets has become the first investment bank to tell people their bonuses.

Early indications are that everything’s ok.

Employees across RBC’s M&A, fixed income and risk businesses their bonuses for 2017 are in line with expectations. “They’re no higher or lower than we were expecting,” says one. “They’re fine, on average,” says another.

While this doesn’t exactly sound like a glowing endorsement of RBC’s compensation awards, it should offer some hope to bankers at U.S. and European houses who have to wait until next year to learn of their 2017 pay. Bonus predictions for 2017 bonuses have been mixed, with fixed income traders expected to see cuts of up to 25% and M&A bankers expected to see increases of up to 10%. 

European banks, which have continued to lose market share are expected to pay much worse than U.S. banks. As a Canadian bank, RBC falls somewhere between the two.

Reflecting the general contentment with bonuses, headhunters say they’ve received very few calls from dissatisfied RBC bankers. One, who specializes in debt capital markets roles said most people at RBC appear to have been paid, “flat to marginally up.”

Underwriting and advisory revenues were up 12% at RBC in 2017 compares to last year. Trading revenues were flat. The bank’s fourth quarter results indicated that the bank substantially increased the amount of bonuses it defers this year, although there don’t appear to have been any complaints about this so far.

German bank Berenberg is expected to be the next to announce bonuses for 2017, with London numbers due to be given out this week.


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