"There is only one bank that I would work for now: HSBC"

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HSBC has fans. Its shareholders have taken up 97% of its rights issue, last week it was upgraded to outperform by KBW, and Ralph Silva, research director at the Tower Group, says it's now the only place to work.

"Of all the investment banks out there, I would only work for one, and that's HSBC," says Silva. "If you are looking for a bonus payout, HSBC offers the highest chance of achieving one."

This is somewhat surprising, given HSBC hasn't exactly been historically renowned for paying generous bonuses. But Silva says those days are all in the past.

"HSBC's investment banking unit used to have the reputation of being a sweat shop," he says. "There were so many people who wanted to work there that they were able to go through people on a two year cycle, but that has changed. They have allocated significant bonuses to senior people in investment banking this year, illustrating their commitment to those areas."

While Goldman's bonus paying potential is likely to be constrained by TARP (unless of course it pays the money back to the government) and by its shareholders, Silva says HSBC is under no such restraints: "HSBC's shareholders are 100% behind its investment banking operations."

According to information provider Dealogic, HSBC ranked second for EMEA DCM over the previous 12 months, 20th for EMEA ECM, outside the top 20 for EMEA M&A, and fifth for EMEA syndicated loans. Globally, it ranked 13th for investment banking revenues.

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