French banks are not known for being super-generous to their investment bankers. Yes, some senior bankers at the top of the pile are said to earn gigantic amounts, but the average Parisian investment banker is likely to be less well off than his or her counterpart at a U.S. bank in the City of London.
New figures from SocGen, BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole confirm this stereotype. At BNP Paribas, average pay per regulated employee in the investment bank for 2012 was €325k. At SocGen, it was €292k. At Credit Agricole, it was €237k.
By comparison, non-French banks are considerably more generous. In 2012, Deutsche Bank paid its average key risk taker globally €1.3m, as did UBS. Credit Suisse paid its average key risk taker CHF2.4m (€2.1m). U.S. banks have yet to release pay per head for key risk takers in London last year, but in 2011 Goldman Sachs paid its London regulated staff $1.3m in cash and around $1.6m in restricted stock.
However, and before anyone decides against working for a French bank on the grounds of impoverishment, it's worth questioning whether the pay per head figures are really comparable between French and Anglo Saxon banks. French banks designate huge numbers of their investment bankers as key risk takers for whom pay is regulated and must be reported. BNP Paribas had 3,189 of them last year; SocGen had 2,880. By comparison, Goldman Sachs only had 95 'code staff' in its London office in 2011, while UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche respectively had 514, 523 and 1,215 across their businesses globally in 2012. It seems likely, therefore, that French banks' pay figures include a lot of junior staff while other banks' don't.
Less promisingly, a high proportion of investment bankers at French firms will be hit by the European Union's bonus cap (which applies only to regulated staff), whereas bankers at other firms will be unaffected.
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