Countdown to the Annual Bonus

Looks like it may be a Bruno Magli Christmas for Wall Streeters after all.

According to a survey by financial services staffing firm Wall Street Services, more than half of executives at top Wall Street financial firms expect to get a little somethin'-somethin' for their hard work this year.

One hundred key executives and managers from brokerages and financial advisory service firms in New York were asked about their bonus expectations for 2003. Their answers revealed an elevated mood compared to their feelings just a few months ago.

The number of managers who are expecting a bonus in 2003 increased 7% since last quarter. And they're feeling a bit more generous, too: There was a 9% increase in the number of managers who expect to give their exempt employees a raise and a 19% increase in the number of managers who expect to give their non-exempt employees a raise.

Compare that to the lean days of 2001, when Wall Street workers tightened their alligator belts and took a 30% hit in bonuses, with only $10 billion in incentives doled out (padding the average paycheck by $60,000), according to the Securities Industry Association. We'd be remiss if we did not point out that the bonus can account for three quarters of salary for some securities workers.

So, were 2002 bonuses fair compared to bank earnings? Last quarter, just 86% of respondents thought they were commensurate with their firm's performance. After an attitude adjustment in the third quarter, 97% of those same respondents decided that last year's bonus was fair given how their employer performed.

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