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Singapore bankers expecting less bubbly Christmas

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IT WILL still be a merry Christmas for bankers, but perhaps with less bubbly. Seven out of 10 - the same as last year - are expecting a bonus but more are being realistic about the payouts, according to a survey.

Singapore

IT WILL still be a merry Christmas for bankers, but perhaps with less bubbly. Seven out of 10 - the same as last year - are expecting a bonus but more are being realistic about the payouts, according to a survey.

Financial services professionals in Singapore are confident about receiving an annual bonus this year but fewer of them are expecting bumper payouts, said eFinancialCareers yesterday.

Almost three quarters (71 per cent) in its latest poll believe that they will receive a bonus this year. This is almost unchanged from last year's 72 per cent. However, those who expect their bonus to increase make up just 42 per cent, down from half last year. Even so, they make up the biggest group - just 36 per cent are expecting their bonus to match last year's and just under a quarter (22 per cent) are anticipating a smaller bonus.

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The eFinancialCareers bonus expectations survey polled 696, 587 and 978 professionals in the banking and finance sectors of Singapore, the UK and the US respectively in September and October.

Said George McFerran, sales and marketing director at eFinancialCareers: "Results from the survey are not a reflection of the health of the financial services industry in Singapore but indicate that professionals have more realistic expectations when it comes to this year's bonus payout. We've often seen a mismatch in the past."

Singapore bonuses continue to trail those in London and New York, the survey found. Not only do more bankers in the US (60 per cent) and UK (56 per cent) expect higher payouts over 2013 compared with Singapore's 42 per cent, they are also betting on much higher amounts.

Here, only 15 per cent think they will get an increase of more than 50 per cent in their 2014 bonus over the previous year while it's 23 per cent in the US and 21 per cent in the UK.

Neil Clark, eFinancialCareers head of marketing, Asia Pacific, said that the lower bonus in Singapore reflects the makeup of the market, in that more here work in the middle and back offices than in the front office which generates revenue.

"Two thirds of respondents here are in mid-and back offices; while it's 50 per cent in the UK and US," he said. "If you're closer to the money... you're more confident of the revenue."

One trend that the company is seeing is - because of increasing scrutiny of the bonus pot - banks have significantly increased basic salaries.

Mr McFerran said: "We are seeing companies taking an increasingly strategic approach to splitting the bonus pot, as they have come under considerable scrutiny in recent years.

"Top performers are heavily prioritised and a number of employers have also significantly increased basic salaries for front office revenue generating staff."

Looking at salaries across the industry, three quarters of respondents reported that their base salary has increased over the past year; of which nearly three in 10 expect their bonus to decrease as a result.

"As we enter further into the new era of financial services," Mr McFerran said, "we are seeing expectations around compensation align. Over the past couple of years, organisations have struggled to manage the expectations of their staff but we are now seeing their efforts trickle through."

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