US trumps UK with bonuses

By The CA Magazine

7 May 2015

UK banks are falling behind those of their US counterparts, according to a recent study.

The latest figures, from salary benchmarking site Emolument,  says heavy regulation and media scrutiny have taken their toll on remuneration in the sector.

Graph showing differences in bonuses based on location 

Emolument analysed bonuses from 434 directors working in Europe for top UK, US and European banks.

It found that US banks have retained their reputation as consistently strong payers.

Emolument predicts, however, that most of the US banks are set to use their positive stock performance over the last 18 months to "reward" employees with increases in the value of their equity, rather than a hike in annual cash bonuses.

In the Eurozone, a conservative bonus policy in 2014 meant banks' bonuses for 2015 show a significant year on year increase, though they still remain far behind their US counterparts.

In Switzerland, meanwhile, disappointing financial results have meant Swiss institutions are under pressure to retain their key staff despite struggling to source a suitable bonus pool, leading to wide swings in remuneration from one specialism to the next, Emolument says.

Thomas Drewry, CEO of, commented: "For many bankers, bonus sizes are not necessarily about absolute payment but as a year on year comparable. 'Are you up or down on last year?' is the question deemed proper enough in bonus-related conversations, and that in itself becomes a substantial indicator of how much the bank wants to keep you on."


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