Yield of Dreams

Bonuses Don’t Bode Well for Wall Street’s Recruiting Power

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Occupy_YaleThese days, there isn’t much drawing young people to look for jobs on Wall Street. This mass media’s been flooded by Occupy Wall Street protests, books about a change in culture at firms, and most recently, former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith’s essay, claiming the firm put its own greed above client’s best interest.

And now as year-end bonuses are dwindling for Wall Street workers, the young’uns don’t even have the same fatty payouts to look forward to. According to a survey by eFinancialCareers, 35 percent of 1,000 financial markets professionals said they were disappointed and that their payout had missed their expectations. Of course, this does not directly apply to financial advisors; this included front-office and support staff at investment and commercial banks, hedge funds and asset managers. In fact, for advisors, recruiting bonuses are at all-time highs.

That said, this year, the disappointed group had even higher salaries than last year’s, according to eFinancialCareers:

"It's hard to overcome firm performance with personal performance in the yin and yang of pay for performance culture," said Constance Melrose, Managing Director, eFinancialCareers, North America. "Firms loathe losing top performers, and approach every bonus season concerned that murmurs of dissatisfaction escalate." This year we saw a shift upward in the earnings levels of this disappointed group to include financial markets professionals whose salaries top $200,000. Last year's discouraged group registered lower salary levels. "Every professional working on Wall Street has a number," said Ms. Melrose. "Sometimes the number is long-term such as how much do I need to make before retirement, but there's an annual number too – a useful marker of professional value to your current employer."

The survey pointed out that some of the banks are cutting compensation, including Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, and Lazard. Cuts range from 30 percent to 10 percent.

Fun is not a word being used to describe the atmosphere with employees in the financial markets who have seen their bonuses capped, slashed and deferred.

I think young people will seek out places in the financial services industry that fit this new paradigm, better satisfy their needs and make them feel they’re contributing. Could that be independence?

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What's Yield of Dreams?

Casting a gimlet-eye on asset management issues.

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