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UBS bonuses are down 30% in two years for MDs, but it could have been worse

When UBS bankers were informed of their bonuses in February, there was some disgruntlement. "Depending upon where you are in the bank, the pool is down at least 30%," one senior quant lamented. Today's UBS compensation report suggests this was correct, but only if you remember the big bonuses of 2021. 

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The chart below shows average salaries and bonuses for key risk-takers at UBS between 2017 and 2023. (You may need to view this on a desktop instead of a mobile phone for it to display correctly.) UBS defines these key risk-takers as employees earning over $2.5m or those in a position to take risks with the bank's capital. There were 1,038 of them last year, including the circa 300 risk-takers who joined from Credit Suisse. 

In 2023, the average key risk-taker at UBS earned $1.7m, comprised of a $643k salary and a $1.1m bonus. Total compensation was down 10% from the $1.9m UBS paid its average risk taker in 2022. Compared to the high point of 2021, however, average bonuses were down 30% and average total compensation was down 22%.

When senior UBS bankers complain about their bonuses, this might be what they have in mind.

Compared to 2022, risk-taker bonuses were down a more moderate 15%. Similarly, across UBS as a whole, the bonus pool for combined Credit Suisse and UBS people was cut by a 14% year-on-year. This was painful, but not the end of the world: UBS profits fell 60% last year, and bonuses could have been much, much worse.  

UBS notes that it spent $736m on retention bonuses for Credit Suisse staff, but insists that this was "modest by industry standards" for the size of the Credit Suisse integration. It also notes that Credit Suisse employees lost 75%  of the value of their deferred stock in the past year, mostly due to the collapse in the Credit Suisse share price. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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