Banker bonuses, salaries surge - survey

The HSBC building (2nd R) is seen in the Canary Wharf business district of London November 13, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - Bankers in London have received average bonus increases of 40 percent this year and most have also received a jump in base salary, according to a survey, signalling that attempts to restrain payouts are failing.

EFinancialCareers, a career website network for financial workers, said 57 percent of 694 UK banking and finance professionals quizzed about their 2009 payouts said bonuses had risen on average by more than 100 percent -- taking the industry rise to two-fifths of 2008 payouts.

Nearly two-thirds of those asked said they had also received a base salary rise 26 percent on average last year.

Employees in private banking, trading and debt/fixed income received the highest bonuses, while those working in risk management, equity capital markets and commodities saw the largest year-on-year increase in payouts, that more than double depressed 2008 levels, eFinancialCareers said.

Britain has attempted to halt a bonus culture blamed for helping sow the seeds of the credit crisis by imposing a 50 percent tax on bank bonuses over 25,000 pounds, banning long-term guaranteed bonuses and urging banks to spread bonuses over three years to discourage short-term decision-making.

But respondents noted little change in how bonuses had been structured. Almost 70 percent said they received all their bonus in cash, 19 percent said a part was deferred and 3 percent said some could be clawed back -- similar to 2008.

Most people who did not receive a higher bonus put this down to the performance of their firm, according to the survey.

Banks in Europe are in the process of informing staff of their bonuses for 2009 as politicians and the public call for restraint after many banks were bailed out by taxpayers.

But despite the salary and bonus rises, the survey said almost half of those asked said they were dissatisfied with their award amid concerns over an increasingly harsh tax regime for high earners. Forty-one percent said they “intended to seek work outside the UK” because of mounting taxes, the survey said.

Reporting by Steve Slater; editing by Elaine Hardcastle