By Steve Slater
LONDON Nov 29 More than 3,500 bankers in Europe
earned 1 million euros ($1.4 million) or more last year after a
big jump across the continent and in Britain, which had 12 times
as many high earners as any other country.
Figures from the bloc's banking regulator on Friday showed
that London-based bankers would have easily bust the European
Union bonus cap rule coming into effect next year. Bonuses for
the highest earners were almost four times fixed pay.
The scale of bankers' bonuses remains a hot topic among
politicians and the public. Many blame high pay for the
risk-taking that led to the 2008/09 financial crisis and a
series of mis-selling and misconduct scandals.
The European Union is trying to curb excessive pay and has
said that from 2014 bonuses for "risk-taking" staff cannot
exceed annual salary, or twice that if shareholders give their
The latest data from the European Banking Authority (EBA)
shows that 3,529 bankers in the EU earned at least 1 million
euros in 2012, up 11 percent in 2011.
They were paid 6.6 billion euros in aggregate, including 5
billion in bonuses, representing more than 10 percent of the EU
bank industry's after-tax profits in 2012. These bankers
represent about 0.1 percent of the 3 million people who work in
banks across Europe.
Britain accounted for 2,714 of those top earners, up 11
percent on the year before, partly reflecting London's dominant
position as Europe's financial centre and home to major
operations for banks from the United States, Switzerland and
other countries outside the EU.
The data shows that banks in Britain and France in
particular need to adjust pay structures to meet new the rules
because variable pay was almost four times fixed pay.
London's top earners in asset management could be hardest
hit, as their bonuses are more than five times fixed pay.
At least 10,000 bankers, most of them in London, are
expected to be affected by the new bonus cap. Banks such as
Barclays, Deutsche Bank and HSBC
are expected to cut bonuses and raise fixed pay to comply with
the new rules.
Any employee earning more than 500,000 euros a year is
likely to be affected, and potentially people whose bonus is at
least 75,000 euros and 75 percent of their fixed pay. The EBA
said on Friday it expects to finalise details next month.
RARE PAY GLIMPSE
The EBA figures, part of data-gathering efforts as the EU
finalises its rules for the bonus cap, offer a rare glimpse into
the pay of bankers across Europe.
Of the British bankers earning more than 1 million euros,
2,188 worked in investment banking, 62 were in retail banking,
198 were in asset management and 266 were in other areas.
The watchdog said that 212 bankers in Germany earned more
than 1 million euros, up by a quarter from 2011.
There were 177 bankers similarly well rewarded in France, up
9 percent, and 109 in Italy, up 14 percent. There were also
significant rises in most Nordic countries.
In Spain, which had to bail out its banking sector last
year, the number earning at least 1 million euros fell by a
fifth to 100. However, the average remuneration for those 100
was 2.2 million euros, higher than Britain and Germany.
Some countries, such as the Czech Republic and Estonia, had
no million euro earners, while Poland had seven.
Ireland, which was almost bankrupted by its banking crisis,
had 16 in the top bracket, down from 21 a year earlier. Cyprus
had three and Greece one.
The figures include high earners from employees based in
each country, rather than the domicile of the bank, so the UK
figures include high earners from international lenders such as
Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.