Bank of America ML revealed its new and exciting bonus structure yesterday, and while the dearly departed Ken Lewis would remind everyone they should be thankful they're getting anything, unlike some people [this guy], employees are apparently not so keen on getting very little cash and stock paid out over the next decade.
The math works as follows:
If bonus is:
-> between $100k and $250k, only 35% in CASH, next 17.5% in STOCK in Aug 2010, next 17.5% in Aug 2010 in STOCK and last 30% in STOCK over 3 years
-> between $250k and $500k, only 24% in CASH, next 18% in STOCK in Aug 2010, next 18% in Aug 2011 in STOCK and last 40% in STOCK over 3 years
Employees at associate and VP level are highly disgruntled given JPM / MS and even Citi giving significantly more cash.
Structure creates weird incentive structure if you are at the cusp of a bracket - e.g. top performer in class of 2007 is likely to be just above $250k. He would rather get $249k so he gets more cash. The next break-even point to get the same cash is $291k. In other words, there is strong incentive NOT to be a top performer. There is a lot of talk of "deferring work over the next three years."
Top performers (particularly those ex-ML) are likely to depart with market heating up, leaving second tier performers behind.