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Wall Street Bonuses Could Fall 20% For Many Wall Streeters In 2016

May 17, 2016, 9:30 PM UTC
A Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange.
Photograph by Spencer Platt—Getty Images

Job cuts and constrained hiring are expected to continue on Wall Street in 2016, with bonuses likely to be lower than in 2015 due to difficult market conditions, according to a study by compensation consultant Johnson Associates.

The study said market activity, the U.S. presidential elections and uncertainty about interest rates and world markets would play key roles in deciding incentive pay.

The forecast for 2016 follows a year in which Wall Street added jobs for the first time in five years and the bonus pool increased 3%.

Wall Street banks have had a brutal start to 2016, with the KBW Global Nasdaq Bank index down nearly 19% on concerns about profitability.

Almost 70% of major global banks are trading below tangible book values, or what they would be worth if liquidated. Analysts say if this continues, banks will need to further cut costs.

Wall Street banks have been slashing employee compensation and cutting jobs as the commodities market downturn and near-zero interest rates have limited their ability to boost profits.

The study said employees involved in underwriting were likely to earn 15%-to-20% less in incentives in 2016 than in 2015 due to a drop in activity, especially in equity underwriting.

Advisory incentives are expected to fall 10%-to-15%.

Incentives for employees in sales and trading could fall by up to 20%, while those in fixed income trading are expected to receive 15%-to-20% less.

Retail and commercial banking staff could buck the trend and see as much as a 5% percent rise in bonuses, helped by solid deposit and loan growth through the year, the survey said.