Wall Street Journal
For the first time in four years, year-end bonuses for bankers in 2017 are set to grow over the prior year, according to consulting firm Johnson Associates Inc. Over all, incentive pay is expected to rise by 5% to 10%, Johnson’s survey found.
Alan Johnson, who runs Johnson Associates and helps banks design compensation programs, said that Washington’s shift toward a softer tone on banks is a big factor in their improving stock prices, which is in turn a big driver of bonuses.
Pensions & Investments
And one compensation consultant doesn’t believe the new law will help achieve its intended goal. Mr. Johnson remains unconvinced that the New York law will have the desired impact on the money management industry, but instead will drag out an already belabored recruiting process.
“I don’t think it’s going to narrow the gap. But politicians want to believe compensation (in the money management industry) is driven by discrimination and not the market,” said Mr. Johnson. “I don’t think it’s going to have a positive impact.”
Mr. Johnson added he believes the law will simply “make the recruiting process more cumbersome (and) more drawn out.”
“I think at the big programs, that’s a fair estimation,” he says. “They run a pretty big operation. They’re responsible for a lot of money. It’s an extraordinarily competitive business. So, yeah, they certainly look much more like a CEO than they did 20 or 50 years ago, in simpler times when the money was not as big.”
That said, Alan Johnson, managing director of compensation consulting firm Johnson Associates, pointed out that the level of director pay is set in a competitive marketplace and has actually grown at a slower pace than that of company executives.
“The real issue is the income growth of the middle [class] has been sluggish,” Johnson told CNBC in a phone interview. “We have to grow our economy so the middle-class American will feel better.”
“It will actually be worse than it was before – the problems that it was intended to cure will get worse,” Johnson says. “[Recruiters] can certainly ask their salary expectations, and the better the negotiator you are, the further you’ll get with that, but the truth is, most candidates don’t really know [how much they should be paid].
Another issue to consider is how executives and potential recruits will react if the clawback provisions are viewed as too onerous, unclear or open-ended, says Alan Johnson, a New York–based executive compensation consultant. A potential worry for executives could be that “five years after I’m gone there will be a witch hunt, and they’re going to call me the witch,” Johnson says.
“He’s done a great job, but the standards to earn it are way too easy,” says Alan Johnson, managing director of New York-based compensation consultancy Johnson & Associates. “You’re going to get paid an enormous amount of money if you finish in the top third of the race? Really?”
“Regulatory and political unknowns continue to spread caution throughout the industry,” Johnson said in the report. “Market activity and interest rates will be key 2017 incentive drivers going forward.”
“The rules never really got a full debate, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing that they have been killed, because I think the pendulum has swung too far,” said Alan Johnson, managing director of Johnson Associates, a compensation consulting firm. “But there will be some blowback on this.”
The fact is that financial services organisations are moving jobs to lower-cost destinations regardless of whether their personnel want to move – largely because they want to cut costs. For employees, this means taking a lower salary in a cheaper location. Alan Johnson, the founder of compensation consulting firm Johnson Associates, says that pay is typically 15-20% down in locations where banks are moving jobs. But this isn’t necessarily all bad.
“Companies used to apologize to employees but they don’t do that anymore – they say, ‘The sticker number of your comp will be less, but factoring in the cost of living, you actually may come out ahead,” he says.