Wall Street's Bummer Bonuses

Ladies who lunch and former high-school star athletes aren't the only ones who'd like to turn back the hands of time. A lot of Wall Streeters looking at their bonus paychecks are longing for yesteryear, too.

Cue wavy computer screen and travel-back-in-time music: We're in the year 2000 when big banks' spirits were as high as the peaking stock market -- and payouts reflected the boss's gratitude. It's a year when a top director at an investment bank receives an average award of $1.5 million.

Cue screeching needle across a record album ripping us back into the present: The same top boss -- a little grayer and following a carb-free regimen -- rips open his bonus envelope and finds a check for -- dum dum duuuuum -- $900,000. Hey, at least it's not 2001, when Wall Street workers tightened their alligator belts and took a 30% hit in bonuses. That year the average paycheck was padded by $60,000, according to the Securities Industry Association.

Is that a tear in your eye? Or did you dislodge a contact lens while rolling your eyes? Whatever your feelings about the way investment professionals get paid, consider that a bonus can account for three quarters of salary for some securities workers. If you want to remove your other contact lens, just take a look at what tech executives rake in.

This year bankers and brokers and other money pros will fare just fine. According to a quarterly survey by compensation consulting company Johnson Associates Inc., bonus payouts will rise 10% to 15% over last year's incentive awards, thanks to a strong first half of the year. Total payouts for investment bankers are expected to increase about 25%. Retail and commercial bankers will be enriched with a 10% to 15% increase, and equities and fixed-income folks will have to make do with a 5% to 10% increase.

Looks like someone will be able to afford some new Bruno Maglis after all.


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