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Singapore beats Hong Kong in banking bonus bloodbath

After a bruising bonus round at US banks, next week will be the turn of European banks to tell staff their ‘numbers’ for 2022.  They're likely to be just as bad.

The overall conclusion from US banks is that in 2022, managing directors in Hong Kong and mainland China suffered a punishing compensation round, with compensation down by between 50% and 60% among senior staff.

Headhunters and bankers told eFinancialCareers that the pain was particularly acute in China-related businesses with MDs again bearing the brunt. “While the overall number is provably close to what people got paid in 2019, This is the biggest year-on-year drop I’ve seen,” said one headhunter. “MDs were screwed. I know people who were paid $3m total comp in 2021 and they were closer to $1m last year. And that’s the people that actually got paid. I’ve never heard of so many people getting ‘zeroed.”

It seems that just a handful of MDs fared better, and in those cases, they received compensation that was between 30% and 35% lower than in 2021. “But here you’re talking about the ‘class favourites’, the top 3% maybe who did OK. But there’s probably only about five of those at each firm,” the headhunter added.

“There’s no doubt that executive directors and  MDs were hit far more than analysts, VPs and associates,” said another  headhunter in Hong Kong. “Junior staff were looked after because they are the people who execute on deals and banks will need them when activity picks up.”

While bankers in Hong Kong suffered, the picture appears to have been more positive in Singapore, where banks have been building out their operations in order to serve growing markets in South East Asia. “Bonuses were probably more like 30% to 35% down in Singapore,” said on Singapore-based headhunter.  “But then again, salaries are lower, particularly in some of the smaller markets. I know MDs in Thailand who will have been paid flat or up on last year, but the quantum will still be lower than in Hong Kong.”

The approach from US banks is likely to be replicated by their European peers, with UBS and Credit Suisse set to announce bonuses next week.

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Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

AUTHORDavid Rothnie Insider Comment

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