February 23, 2011
DiNapoli: Wall Street Bonuses Declined in 2010
Earnings Down from Record High, but Wall Street Has Second Best Year Ever
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Cash bonuses paid to New York City securities industry employees declined by nearly 8 percent to $20.8 billion in 2010, about one third less than paid out in 2007 before the financial crisis, according to an estimate released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The decline in the cash bonus pool reflects changes adopted by the industry in response to regulatory reforms, such as a shift toward deferred compensation and higher base salaries. Wall Street profits totaled $27.6 billion in 2010, which would be second only to 2009 when the industry benefited from federal bailouts and low interest rates.
"Cash bonuses are down, but that's not an indicator of a weakness on Wall Street," DiNapoli said. "Wall Street is changing its compensation practices in response to regulatory reforms adopted in the aftermath of the greatest financial meltdown since the Great Depression. Past practices rewarded short-term gains at the expense of long-term profitability."
"The industry's greater emphasis on deferred compensation will hold down tax collections this year, but the State and the City will benefit in future years when taxes are paid on this deferred compensation. A more stable and less volatile securities industry is in the best interests of Wall Street, the City and the State."
DiNapoli's office annually releases an estimate of bonuses paid to securities industry employees who work in New York City. Bonuses paid by New York City-based firms to their employees located outside of the City (whether in domestic or international locations) are not included. DiNapoli's estimate is based on personal income tax trends and reflects cash bonuses and deferred compensation for which taxes have been prepaid. The estimate does not include stock options that have not been realized or other forms of deferred compensation.
Last year, bonus payments extended into March and even April, well beyond the traditional bonus season. As a result, the Comptroller has revised his estimate of the growth in the 2009 bonus pool from 17 percent to 27 percent.
DiNapoli also reported that: