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.