Skip to main content

Bonus Watch '12: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley

  • Author:
  • Updated:

The bad news: if all goes according to plan, bonus numbers, which will be communicated over the next couple weeks, will have you weeping unconsolably at your desk, shrieking "No! Get away from me!" at worried colleagues approaching to offer comfort. The good news: assuming you don't get fired for wiping said tears on Gary Cohn's pant leg when he comes by for a chat, there's nowhere to go from here but up.

As banks prepare to report fourth-quarter results and make final bonus decisions for 2011, total compensation is likely to be the lowest since 2008, when the financial crisis destroyed some firms and left many survivors on government life support...At Goldman Sachs Group Inc., many of the roughly 400 partners can expect to see their 2011 pay cut at least in half from 2010, according to people familiar with the situation. Pay for some employees in the New York company's fixed-income trading business will shrink by 60%, with some workers getting no bonus, these people said. Morgan Stanley is expected to shrink bonuses for some investment bankers and traders by 30% to 40% from 2010, said people familiar with the matter...At Goldman, average compensation per employee would fall 10.7% to $385,000 for 2011 from $431,000 in 2010 if the New York company keeps its payout rate steady in the fourth quarter. In 2007, Goldman employees received an average of $661,000 each, and people throughout the firm are bracing for disappointment. Analysts who follow Goldman expect the securities firm's revenue to fall 23% for 2011 compared with 2010, according to a survey by FactSet Research Systems Inc. For the typical Goldman partner, pay for 2011, including base salary and bonus, is likely to range from $3 million to $6.5 million, according to people familiar with the matter. In better years, payouts have been at least twice as high, these people said.

One bright spot this year could be bonuses given out in stock. The stock-price slide that battered most financial firms in 2011, wiping out $295 billion in market capitalization from the 34 companies in the Journal's analysis, means that stock-based bonuses about to be doled out will be cheap compared with previous years. That could mean a big windfall down the road for employees if financial firms' stocks climb.

Ergo, if you wanna spend the next few weeks leading up to the pricing date for your stock/option/RSU awards informing bank analysts, CNBC talking heads and various passersby who'll run with it that "THIS SHIP IS SINKING" and "I don't have much time to chat but I wanted to let you know that our balance sheet is completely made up; our CFO, [fill in name here], selects random bar code numbers in place of the true horror story that will soon engulf this cesspool and consign it to the scrap heap of corporate history" and "I spend my days swimming against an endless tide of ineptitude (not to mention a constant barrage of same-sex harassment by [insert name of CEO here])," no one's gonna stop ya.

Wall Street Prepares To Take Sharp Pay Cut [WSJ]


Bonus Watch '15: Goldman Sachs > Morgan Stanley > Bank of America

And backing up the rear for bonus across the pond: Société Générale.

Layoffs/Bonus Watch '12/13: Morgan Stanley

Back in January, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman sent a simple messages to his employees, who had been grumbling about their pay: STFU or GTFO. "You're naive, read the newspaper, No.1," Gorman told Bloomberg he would say to any members of his staff that wanted to give him lip about their compensation to his face. "No. 2, if you put your compensation in a one-year context to define your over all level of happiness, you have a problem which is much bigger than this job. And No. 3, if you're really unhappy, just leave." Today, in an interview with the FT, Gorman reiterated his stance and added that in addition to reducing compensation for current employees, the bank will likely be drastically cutting pay for future analysts. If anyone has a problem with that, consider applying for a gig at Bank of Mythical Pre-Crisis Era Bonuses. Alternatively, Gorman is happy to discuss a compensation plan in which you'll be awarded shares of his foot in your ass, which vest immediately. In the latest sign of the pressure Wall Street is under to cut costs and address high pay levels, James Gorman, chief executive, said that staff and remuneration would have to be sacrificed as banks cope with lower profits. “There’s way too much capacity and compensation is way too high,” Mr Gorman said in an interview with the Financial Times. “As a shareholder I’m sort of sympathetic to the shareholder view that the industry is still overpaid.” Morgan Stanley itself is already axing 4,000 jobs, 7 per cent of its workforce, by the end of this year. In the new year, Mr Gorman said, the bank will consider its next round of cost-cutting, including lower pay and bonuses. News of further pay cuts, including potentially for new entrants at the investment bank, comes just weeks after Goldman Sachs confirmed it was overhauling its well-known entry-level programme for analysts. Goldman was said to have tired of the number of analysts in the programme who left the bank for hedge funds. Mr Gorman said that Morgan Stanley will probably keep its own analyst programme, but pay could be reduced significantly. Morgan Stanley Chief Warns On Wall Street Pay [FT] Earlier: James Gorman To Employees: STFU Or GTFO

Layoffs Watch '12: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Barclays?

Supposedly summer cuts are under consideration at all firms. Morgan Stanley is planning to eliminate about 100 trading jobs internationally in the next several weeks — with an unknown number of the cuts coming from New York. At Goldman, executives are likely to let the hatchet fall if the slowdown in trading doesn’t reverse itself, bank officials have said...Goldman is already cutting selectively among its middle-management ranks but could cut even deeper, sources explained. Goldman CFO David Viniar has told people that the firm may have to undergo a “right-sizing” again if the markets’ rocky road doesn’t improve, according to sources. And it’s not just Goldman and Morgan. Industry sources said that a number of other firms, including Citigroup and Barclays Capital, may also look to trim staff. [NYP]