It may not be immediately obvious, but Nordic banks could in time benefit from the tough new bonus edicts being handed down by the Committee of European Banking Supervisors.
The new rules, which are due to be finalised this week or next, state that some people will have anything from 40-60% of their bonus deferred over three years, with – to make matters worse – only half of the remaining “non-deferred element” being immediately accessible.
This may sound bad but, initially at least, it looks like the rules are only going to affect a small minority of high earners within Europe’s financial centres, with Jon Terry, head of the reward and compensation practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, estimating it will catch around 150 people per bank in London.
The longer term issue for Nordic banks is whether political pressure will means the CEBS stops there or we see a “trickle down” to people lower down the scale.
“The fear is that it will go down to cover much greater numbers of people in the coming years, with groups such as traders particularly being caught,” says Terry.
If this were to happen, it is perfectly feasible that, combined with the issue of higher tax rates in the UK, the burden of bonus deferral could start to act as a “tipping point” for people who perhaps already have the idea of moving back “home” at the back of their minds, even if it means a reduction in headline remuneration.
“If an individual is going to be caught up in this anyway, and they look at the amount they will be deferring in both locations and the amount of tax they will be paying, it could start to make more sense for them. The gross number may be, say, half but the deferral could make a difference.
“It is not going to have a huge impact now but down the line it might, and it may be that we see Nordic banks becoming a more attractive destination as a result,” he adds.
For recruiters, however, the consensus at the moment is that it is certainly not yet an issue driving talent migration.
Banks beginning to offer higher base salaries to compensate could have some effect over time but, overall, the pay differentials between working in a big European financial centre versus a regional market such as the Nordics will still probably mean such decisions remain predominantly driven by lifestyle or career choices
“I think it would be far-fetched to assume that the ‘new’ regulations would move people to Nordic banks,” suggests Anders Borg, president of recruiter Hansar International. “The difference would still be considerable.”