The EU-wide bonus cap saw an impact not just on employee morale but also on hiring. Big European banks found it difficult to hire executives, especially when compared to U.S. banks where bonuses and fixed salaries can be higher.
European banks are suffering from years of weak profits, massive fines, ultra-low monetary policy and uncertainty surrounding the U.K.’s exit from the European Union. The U.S. banks, on the other hand, especially the big ones like J.P. Morgan and Citi have very strong retail operations that have kept these banks resilient in the face of economic headwinds. This makes them better paymasters and a more conducive place to work.
One recruitment consultant told CNBC, on condition of anonymity due to their relationship with large banks, that lenders like Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan see strong bonus payouts for front of office roles executives — such as in the trading room — and were up to 30 to 40 percent better when compared to European banks such as Barclays, Deutsche Bank and UBS. Spokespersons for Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Citi, Barclays, Deutsche Bank and UBS were not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.
“There is no comparison. A vice-president or a director level executive in a trading function at a U.S. bank will easily see a 100 percent cash bonus component as compared to a European bank where these are generally given as deferred, or in stocks,” the consultant said.