It's often a problem at boutiques and smaller firms of any kind: a few big beasts at the top of food chain wield disproportionate power and there's a lot less of the bureaucratic cushioning and the meritocratic mantras that you get at big banks. Fundamentally, if you join someone's hedge fund and they choose to pay themselves most of the profits you and your dispensable colleagues help generate, there's not really very much you can do about it.
Two years ago, for example, Brevan Howard had a bad year and paid its partners very generously whilst seeming to cut pay for everyone else. Last year, it wasn't quite that bad at Comac Capital - but it's quite bad.
Comac Capital is the London-based discretionary global macro fund manager run by Colm O'Shea, an Irish-born Oxford-raised ex-Citigroup prop trader and former senior macro trader at George Soros' Quantum Fund. It's just released its annual results for the year ending March 2012.
During these 12 months, Comac allocated £37m of its £47m in profits to its 12 partners, the highest paid of whom received £26m.
This highest paid employee is probably O'Shea himself. Other Comac partners include: Joshua Greene, head of research and analysis, Malcolm Butler, chief operating officer, and Michael Perry, chief compliance officer.
Meanwhile, another £10.4m in compensation was allocated to Comac's 40 employees. They earned an average of £261k each. This is not at all bad, but still a little galling when you consider that one partner/'member' - probably O'Shea, but possibly someone else - appears to have earned 100 times as much as the average and that in a company employing 40 people, 55% of the total amount allocated to compensation appears to have gone to a single individual.
Banks look positively egalitarian by comparison: Jamie Dimon's pay was only 60 times higher than the average JPMorgan investment banker's last year.