The good old days are back, at least for traders at investment banks. Little more than a year after the credit/economic crisis that was supposed to have changed Wall Street forever, I-bankers are set to be rolling in dough come bonus season, if their firms are lucky enough to have paid back Uncle Sam for his help in, you know, surviving.
And in a major reversal from just a few years ago, alternative investment pros will be worse off, not only than their I-banking peers, but even compared to their own sorry bonuses from last year, despite the big returns many hedge funds and private equity firms have enjoyed in 2009.
The Johnson Associates survey predicts that investment bankers will, on average, get a 40% fatter bonus check this year. But before you M&A guys start pricing Maseratis, the news on the Street is not all good. Those bigger bonuses will be going almost exclusively to traders, with bond traders getting between 50% and 60% more than last year, and equity traders getting between 40% and 50% more. Indeed, if the words "fixed-income" or "equity" is not in your title somewhere, you're probably going to have to make do with less than last year.
Commercial bankers? Expect between 5% and 10% less. M&A advisers? 10% to 15% less. Asset managers, hedge fund guys and buyout kingpins? Cancel Christmas.
You see, all of that stellar performance this year, which may or may not have made up for those catastrophic losses last year Ken Griffin, apparently hasn't fooled enough investors to give hedge and p.e. funds their money back. And until they do, it seems that those who two years ago were preparing to inherit the earth will just have to watch those I-banking dinosaurs have all the fun.
Asset managers and alternative investors--and the poor prime brokerage folks who serve them--won't be the only ones bemoaning a lost world. Citigroup and all those other firms still in the government's debt will remain subject to the always watchful eye of bonus Grinch Ken Feinberg. But even that's preferable to the ultimate indignity of being French.
Offering up another piece of evidence that "right-wing" doesn't actually have any meaning at all in Europe, France's rightist government plans a draconian crack-down on bankers' pay. The French plan all sorts of unpleasant new rules for their banks, covering both their domestic operations and BNP Paribas' soon-to-be-deserted New York office. Among them are--gasp--an outright ban on multi-year guaranteed bonuses and greater disclosure, for shaming purposes.
Big Bonuses Are Back for Many on Street [WSJ]
France Sets New Bonus Rules for Banks [WSJ]