City bonuses to fall to a third of levels seen pre-recession, as FTSE 100 chiefs enjoy 49% pay increase
David Woods, October 28, 2011
Total bonus payouts in the City for 2011/12 are expected to fall year on year by 38.0% to ‘only’ £4.2 billion, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
But the news comes as separate research from the Incomes Data Service (IDS) found FTSE 100 directors are expecting a 49% pay increase from last year - pocketing an average £3,855,172 -and adding to the fury of the ant-capitalist protesters camping outside St Paul's Cathedral.
This takes the level of bonus payments to just over a third of the £11.6 billion peak seen in 2007/08 just before the recession. The last time a lower level of bonuses paid was in 2002/03.
Bonuses are projected to be significantly lower in the 2011/12 financial year due to the much weaker City economy. Turmoil caused by the debt crisis in the Eurozone has constrained activity in the City, and several major banks have announced weak results for Q3 2011.
Up to 27,000 City- type jobs are expected to be lost over 2011 as a whole and remain broadly at that level in 2012, and the prospect of tighter regulation is placing further downward pressure on activity. The recent trend of remunerating workers through higher salaries and lower bonuses plays a part in both the downward movement in total bonuses and the loss of now more expensive employees.
While workers are receiving lower payouts, one of the biggest losers is the taxman. On bonuses of £4.2 billion, over half this amount (£2.5 billion) will be collected by the Treasury.
This is a long way down from the £6.8 billion collected in the peak of 2007/08, clearly illustrating how the taxpayer also misses out when the City pays lower bonuses.
Looking further forward, total bonus payments are expected to remain broadly flat through 2012/13 before starting to recover as global growth picks up substantially in 2013. However, the level of City bonuses will remain below recent highs until at least 2015/16, and are not expected to return to the peak seen in 2007/08 during our forecast period.
These latest figures demonstrate how London's position as a world-leading financial centre remains under threat. The Far Eastern centres of Hong Kong and Singapore are rapidly closing the gap with London, and with the prospects of tighter regulatory measures for the City, that gap is only likely to closer further. We could see London being overtaken as the leading global financial destination.
Rob Harbron, CEBR economist and co-author of the report, said: "The drop in both bonus payments and the number of City-type jobs is concerning for London as a financial centre and for the UK economy as a whole.
"With financial services helping drive the capital's economy and London historically leading the growth of national output, subdued activity spells more weak prospects for the coming year."
Douglas McWilliams, CEBR chief executive, added: "Although I wouldn't want to be a Porsche salesman now with the fat cats having to tighten their belts, the real losers from falling bonus payments are the Treasury and the taxpayer."
Commenting on the IDS report, Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey said: "This damning report shows just how much these pampered directors are removed from the lives of working people struggling to hold onto their jobs and paying soaring energy, food and transport costs.'
"This is an astonishing display of boardroom greed. It is exactly why people have been occupying St Paul's to protest against the behaviour of the City elite and a government which is turning a blind eye to these abuses.
"Institutional shareholders need to exercise much greater scrutiny and control of directors' pay and bonuses.
"The government should be strongly considering giving shareholders greater legal powers to question and curb these excessive remuneration packages.
'Directors of top companies should not be getting these outrageous packages, especially those heading up companies that are failing to perform. It's obscene and shows that the City has learnt nothing during the financial troubles of the last four years."