Bigger bonuses, fewer jobs (updated)

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Commiserations if your bonus was down - most were apparently static or up. That may not hold true at UBS.

Research from recruitment firm Morgan McKinley suggests a hefty 43% of people in the City received bonuses that were equal to last year's payouts, and 37% saw a rise. A mere 20% were paid down.

Even if your bonus was in the depreciating minority, it may not be a fortuitous moment to throw your laptop out of the pram.

Morgan McK's research also revealed that there were 20% fewer job vacancies in January 2008 than there were in January 2007 - although vacancies rose 57% between December 2007 and January 2008 as recruitment revived after Christmas.

The study covered 220 people and was conducted between 14 and 18 Jan. (ie before Deutsche, UBS, Credit Suisse, etc., announced).

The results may, however, paint a rosier picture than the reality, particularly in the front office.

Given Morgan McKinley's focus on the back and middle office, it's fair to assume that most of its figures are for accountants and risk professionals and their brethren, rather than for the likes of CDO structurers and ABS originators.

"2007 was still a strong year for financial services, and for the majority, bonus payouts in middle and back office functions appear to reflect this," says the company's chief exec, Robert Thesiger.

Shaun Springer, chief executive of search firm Napier Scott, says the front office picture wasn't quite so pretty: "The front office bonus pool in Europe this year was down 15% on 2006."

Bonuses down 10% at UBS

UBS's results suggest bonuses at the Swiss bank did indeed decline.

However, despite posting 'the biggest ever loss for a bank for the fourth quarter', according to Bloomberg, UBS reduced full year personnel expenses in its investment bank by only 9% in 2007 compared with 2006.

With investment banking headcount marginally higher at the end of 2007 than the end of 2006, the average UBS pay packet was also down - to CHF474,968 (218,143) from CHF518,425 last year.

Since the end of September 2007, UBS has made 900 of its 1,500 intended redundancies, and according to the Financial Times, there are more cuts to come as the bank withdraws from "selected proprietary credit business in the US, Asia and Europe".