If you’re an upscale builder, gardener, restaurant owner, psychotherapist or purveyor of fine wines and your customer-base has suddenly gone AWOL, we may know why: following the Brexit vote, bankers are far less wealthy than before. Since Thursday 23rd (the day before the referendum), the value of deferred bonuses at Deutsche Bank, Barclays, UBS and Credit Suisse alone has declined by $800m.
This figure is based upon bonuses that were paid in deferred stock for last year. Deutsche deferred €1.5bn of 2015 bonuses, Barclays deferred £661m. Credit Suisse and UBS deferred CHF978m and CHF1bn respectively. Most banks defer bonuses over a minimum of three years, with a third of the stock awarded becoming available for sale annually. Some, like Deutsche, defer bonuses for senior staff for a full five years.
Since the referendum vote, the share prices of the banks in question have declined by anything from 17% (UBS) to 25% (Barclays). 2015’s deferred stock bonuses are suddenly worth a lot less as a result. As are any bonuses unvested from the previous two to five years.
Employees working for US investment banks have been less affected by the deferred bonus rout, but they haven’t escaped entirely. In 2014 (the last year for which figures are available), Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan awarded London-based code staff deferred bonuses worth €229m and $435m respectively. Assuming the two US firms paid similar amounts to London staff last year, their top London bankers lost $13m and $10m respectively as their share prices fell in the post-referendum turbulence last week.
Does this matter? Who cares if a few rich bankers get stung by the chaos related to the Brexit vote?
It does (matter) if you’re reliant on the spending power of bankers for your livelihood. According to one estimate, a banker who earns $1m a year sustains 25 livelihoods with his/her spending on services. Now that 2015 bonuses are worth a lot less than before, those bankers are going to be a lot less inclined to spend on frivolities. It’s back to basics – for everyone.