At the very top of the banking industry, people are doing well. Jamie Dimon got a 74% increase in his pay this year, James Gorman got an 86% increase in his deferred stock bonus and Lloyd Blankfein has had his bonus increased to $21m for 2013 from $19m in 2012.
A notch below the executive elite, however, things aren’t quite so glitzy. Headhunters say managing directors (MDs) in big US banks are being paid significantly less than they used to be.
“At most places, MDs are getting their bonuses knocked back by up to 50%,” says the head of one fixed income focused search firm, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Banks are taking that money and allocating it to senior associates and vice presidents (VPs). If a bank’s got a good franchise it’s realized that it doesn’t need to pay over the odds to top people – it just needs someone who’s competent.”
Ebrahim Zaheer at search firm The Kennedy Group, which focuses on equities professionals, says banks know that most managing directors are trapped where they are, whereas high performing mid-ranking and junior staff can easily find new jobs. “Associates and VPs are the future and are the kinds of people who are being hired. There are very few mandates out now for recruiting managing directors – they’re expensive to recruit as they have a lot of stock to buy out. As a result, banks have less need to pay people at MD level,” he says.
Another headhunter, also speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of ostracizing banking clients, said banks have also continued last year’s trend of paying high levels of cash to juniors while punishing senior staff with restricted stock bonuses and long deferrals. Although both Citi and Morgan Stanley have said they will pay higher levels of cash this year, Deutsche Bank has promised to retain five year deferred bonuses for its most senior staff.