Banking Technologists: Upset About This Year’s Bonuses?

Now that most U.S. investment banks (and UBS) have announced bonuses for 2020, some technologists are experiencing a rude awakening. After years of being told that they’re important employees who are increasingly on a par with the front office, many are finding their compensation squeezed.

Banks don’t discuss the allocation of bonuses, and comments from employees are necessarily subjective, but there are various gripes floating around about tech bonuses

“There seem to be a lot of zeroes,” said one trading technologist at Bank of America. “And a lot of people are down 40 percent or 50 percent on last year. The company chose not to make any layoffs in 2020, so the bonus is having a job.” 

On Blind, one Goldman Sachs technologist complained that their bonus was weak and was only 5 percent of their base salary “despite meeting expectations for last year.” Three years into the role, they claimed to earn $150,000 in base salary and a $10,000 cash bonus for 2020, and said their salary had been hiked to $158,000 for 2021. 

The technologists’ complaints are balanced by positive comments from others. One Goldman technologist working on last year’s release of the Apple Card at Marcus said he’d been paid very well indeed. A Goldman managing director told us the crucial thing for the past year wasn’t “meeting expectations” but exceeding them, such that anyone below that standard could expect to be paid flat or down.

At JPMorgan, there was some concern that technologists’ bonuses would be squeezed to pay traders, while salaries for everyone above vice president (VP) level have been frozen. However, one London-based senior technologist said these fears haven’t been borne out, and that JPM tech bonuses appeared to have been allocated fairly with top performers paid up significantly on last year. 

“Second year graduate technologists who are moving to associate got a maximum of £7,000 ($10,000) bonus, and a pay rise from £55,000 to £60,000,” he added.

A modified version of this article originally appeared in eFinancialCareers.