Bonus surprise on the cards

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Six out of 10 banks believe their workers will be surprised, either pleasantly or unpleasantly, by their bonus this year, recruiter Morgan McKinley's annual pre-bonus snapshot has predicted.

Four out of 10 banks in the poll said they expected the majority of their workers not to be disappointed, with a similar number expecting to pay out up to 25% more than last year.

For many, Morgan McKinley says bonuses will be higher than they're expecting.

Nevertheless, however people's pockets are stuffed, there is still likely to be a rush for the door come the new year.

"The fluidity in the job market will increase dramatically in the new year, as it always does," points out Morgan McKinley chief executive Robert Thesiger, who suggests some firms will be looking to increase their headcount by as much as a quarter.

"It will not just be the people who are unhappy, but those simply looking for a change. Yes, the dollar speaks volumes, but it is the career that is important," he adds.

Speculation this year is firmly focused on allegations of discontentment at JPMorgan, where belt-tightening under chief executive Jamie Dimon has led some to suggest that if bonuses there are not felt to be up to par this year there could be an exodus of individuals, or even whole teams.

Banks, says Thesiger, are increasingly looking beyond the bonus as a way of retaining people, with carrots such as overseas assignments, better benefits packages and more flexible working becoming more common.

Banks are also more aware of the need to keep their 'steady eddies' content as well as their high flyers, argues Andrew Chancellor at Robert Walters.

"It might be things such as offering sabbaticals, long-service leave, or deals on hours or working practices. It just the little stuff, but often it can add up to become something quite useful," he says.

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