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WEALTH MANAGEMENT | Cesar Tordesillas, Hong Kong
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Asia’s investment bankers getting poorer with bonus cuts

On the rise this year has been the number of Asia bankers getting zero bonus.

 

Global investment banks reduced pay in Asia by between 30 percent and 40 percent last year, with many bankers receiving no bonus at all and pay for star performers flat at best.

This was due to a global sector slowdown.

In Credit Suisse’s Asia Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities division, as many as 50 percent of staff received no bonus, while the top 6 performers were paid more than last year and the remaining staff paid 30 percent to 40 percent less, according to an executive recruiter who did not want to be named.

At Citigroup, compensation for bankers in the institutional clients group fell by an average of 30 percent, according to the headhunter’s data.

Sources with knowledge of the bank’s compensation say a few poor performers saw their total pay package drop by as much as 70 percent, while those who had a good year were paid about the same as the previous year.

The US bank paid all of the cash portions of its bonuses by the end of January, with the balance paid in stock vesting equally over four years, according to the sources.

At Bank of America Merrill Lynch, according to the headhunter, even outperformers in the FICC and Equities departments saw total compensation drop by as much as 20 percent, while underperformers lost 30 percent or more.

With French banks BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole yet to announce compensation for 2011, the pay cuts and firings in Asia are not yet over. The two banks, expected to announce pay internally on March 9th and March 11th, respectively, are, according to one headhunter source, set to follow the herd in cutting total remuneration in Asia by at least 20 percent.

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