Further evidence that associates are being paid handsomely this year

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It could be the unthinkable's happening: senior staff are being deprived of pay in order to reward juniors.

Yesterday, Clusterstock reported that Goldman VPs, having had their salaries hiked 50%, are also getting bonuses in line with 2007.

Given bonus numbers are emerging on a daily basis, we've also now got some more colour to add to yesterday's, figures. Recruiters point out that it's still early days - these aren't averages based on hundreds of bonus numbers, but a few data points in the dark. More clarity will emerge over the next few weeks.

Here are the numbers as they currently rumoured to stand:

· Base salaries for first year associates have been increased to 65-70k. The very best paid first year associates are getting 200% bonuses, but this is NOT the norm.

· Second year associates appear to be topping out around 200k in total comp.

· There are big disparities between top and bottom peformers, with variations as high as 50k at Citigroup.

Recruiters say pay for juniors compares very healthily with last year, when bonuses for first year associates ranged from 20% to 100% in exceptional cases. According to one, it also compares well with 2007:"In 2007 an associate 2 was getting $400k, but the exchange rate was closer to 2:1," he says.

However, Jim Nairn, a director at the Cornell Partnership says previous year comparisons are inappropriate: 2008 was an anomaly and following 2009 salary hikes, Nairn says bonuses are being recalibrated.

Nor does this year's hike necessarily mean senior staff are being deprived to pay juniors.

Although comp ratios have typically fallen to around 40% for 2009 (down from 50% historically) they've been artificially reduced by the high proportion of deferred pay at senior levels. This won't register as a cost until it vests. Once deferred comp is taken into account, 2009 may turn out to be a record year for everyone.

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