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The most optimistic bankers in the world? Young, male, minorities

There's a lot to expect from this year's bonus season. Who's optimistic? Who's pessimistic?

As it turns out, bankers in general are optimistic. And the most optimistic bankers in the world are in Europe, Frankfurt especially. But that wasn't the only pattern we found - especially when we cut the data by age, gender, and ethnicity.


Our survey suggested that the younger you are, the more optimistic you are about getting a higher bonus this year, with optimism peaking amongst those fresh out of university. Whilst one UBS associate bemoaned the “difficult year” caused by the acquisition of CS, he still expected a 200% bonus lift due to its relatively low level in 2022. Another junior, working in technology in New York, was told simply to not overthink his bonus: “Work honest, work hard. Don’t go for the bonus, the bonus will come to you.” He expected a 20% bonus rise.

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A tech VP in London – who marked himself as over 50 in our survey – was a bit savvier than the youngsters, perhaps. He noted that “senior management are already trying to manage expectations, despite the firm earning billions,” and he accordingly expected a 10% decline in his bonus.


Women expect their bonuses decline in 2023. Men – predictably, maybe – are more optimistic. Female respondents to the survey frequently mentioned budget cuts as part of their communication from senior management teams. One Australian technologist, who was also told that budget cuts would impact bonuses, bemoaned “salary cuts” on top of zero bonuses. She also noted that she would be looking for a new job in the new year.

Men were more generally more optimistic, although few noted any direct contact with their manager regarding bonus numbers. One APAC associate expected bonuses to be “based on annual results” and was accordingly expecting to see a 60% bonus uplift from last year. Not all men were that optimistic, however – one EMEA director working in the middle office bemoaned his “toxic, woke, unethical [work] environment,” which had seen his director unilaterally adjust all agreed bonus agreements whilst increasing senior management’s. 

Our survey suggested black people expected big bonuses increases of over 20% this year, whilst Hispanic people expected declines. White people and Asians trended close to the global average (6%). What’s behind the variations based on ethnicity? An (Asian) M&A VP in London noted that whilst the bonus pool is “considerably lower,” his bank is focused on “keeping top talent and promoting diversity”.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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