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Conclusive proof that big bonuses were an aberration

For anyone still living under the delusion that bonuses paid in 2006 and 2007 were even vaguely normal, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has produced some figures showing that they were, in fact, hideous mutants.

The ONS has only been assimilating figures for total UK financial services bonuses since 2001. Even so, the fluctuations are huge:

2001: 6.5bn

2002: 6bn

2003: 5.5bn

2004: 7.5bn

2005: 9bn

2006: 11bn

2007: 16bn

2008: 16bn

With a mean of 9.6bn, the payouts of 2007 and 2008 were 65% above the norm for the past eight years. And given that most of the past eight years – with the exception of 2002 and 2003 – weren’t too bad for banking, the mean itself may be an aberration. It would be no surprise if the UK’s bonus pool is a third of last year’s amount for the foreseeable future.

Comments (17)

  1. You should also look at the average for the last 1000 years – show’s we were way too overpaid in the last 2 – backing up your point evenmore.
    (another meaningless stat)

  2. Who writes this stuff…??!! Obviously a 5yr old whose never worked in the city.

    Another totally pointless article by EFN – well done.

  3. OK fot the total amount but a bonus per head calculation would be more pertinent…

  4. How is this meaningless? It highlights the imbalance in pay – a correction was inevitable.

  5. What about as a % of revenues…. That might be more meaningful.

  6. Thanks for the constructive criticism JB. If you read the article again you may notice that it was written by me.

    And BC, it may have been nice to look back over 1,000 years, but the Office of National Statistics is a relatively recent invention.

    Apart from that….this is just a very (very) quick analysis of the stats put out by the ONS. Unfortunately they don’t cover bonuses as a % of revenues, or pay per head – I agree that both measures would have been interesting.

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  7. What different conclusions can be drawn if it is presented as a % per head or as a % of revenue! The numbers show that the FS sector has got too fat – whether that is because of more people earning the same bonus or the same people earning bigger bonuses is irrelevant. The industry has got to re-align.

  8. It is so comforting, to write scathing criticism from the safety of anonymity. Even when disagreeing with an article, there are no excuses for not staying polite.

    Rodolphe Mortreuil, MKMC Reply
  9. I stand by my comments…

    “Conclusive” proof?? How is this conclusive? “Aberration” – based on what?? I would expect this from The Sun but not from a website focused on city people….

    Why not do some real research instead of your usual cut and paste. These figures are just for headlines and have no meaning unless you know what they’re based on.

  10. Hi again JB,

    Aberration: noun 1 a departure from what is normal (or acceptable). (Oxford Dictionary)

    In the context of the past 8 years, figures for total financial services bonuses in the UK for 2007 and 2008 (ie. all bonuses paid to everyone who works in the UK financial services industry – retial banking included) fit this definition accurately.

    The headline was intended to be slightly tongue in cheek, but given that the past two years’ bonuses were unquestionably an aberration according to the definition above, it is also correct.

    If we were The Sun, I suspect we would have used a headline more along the lines of ‘Greedy bankers gobbled billions in bonuses.’

    And, while our pieces are short and in blog style, my usual is not a ‘cut and paste job’, unlike some of our competitors.

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  11. sorry for staying anonimous Rodolphe Mortreuil
    It is I, your evil nemesis, Quentin Forgues Worthington-Smythe

    Quentin Forgues Worthington Smythe Reply
  12. Some of the comments are as adult and mature as those on You Tube comments section – let along people from the City. JB / BC, there’s no need to rude. If you have nothing concrete to contribute to add to the discussion then dont say anything. It’s a free site afterall. So you’re free to leave

    Sarah, why don’t you make people register before they can make a comment. You may then get some sensible discussion and comments

  13. sarah – i apologise, i guess we get used to talking like that at work all day, i shouldn’t have done the same with your article above.

    “Simon Cowell ” – you are right

  14. bc – i’m always right….

  15. Sarah,
    Without sounding too much like a pedant, does the ONS have the figures on total compensation? Bonuses as a percentage of salary would be useful.

  16. Hi interested. They may do – but the chances of unearthing them on the unfathomable ONS website are remote. If I get a chance, I’ll email my contact and see if they have earnings data for financial services in their system. I’m not promising anything though…

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  17. some banks do reveal compensation payments as percentage of revenue (on a global basis)…it would be interesting to see the percentages over the last few years….if the percentage is relatively static then it would be reasonable to conclude that higher bonuses over the last 2 years reflected increased earnings and lower earnings in 2008 would mean lower aggregate bonuses. If this is the case it means compensation standards havent changed.

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