Cancelled Bonuses


My firm announced that bonuses are cancelled for 2020 (MM). I'm sure a lot of firms won't come right out and make the announcement, more of a surprise come bonus time when you don't get paid but is anyone else out there hearing rumblings at their firm about the same?

Comments (148)

Most Helpful
Apr 7, 2020 - 4:20pm

Nobody should be expecting a bonus in 2020. If that changes your comp calculus, then you should decide what you plan to do about that.

The "bonus" for this year is continued employment in 2021.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Apr 7, 2020 - 5:34pm

Because it doesn't add anything to the conversation. Everyone already knows bonuses probably won't happen this year and we're lucky enough to still have jobs. The question was whether or not anyone else had gotten the news not for captain obvious over here to stand up and be useless.

  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
Apr 7, 2020 - 4:23pm

They cancelled analyst bonuses? Or more specifically, did the announcement extend to the analysts? I'm not one, but given you could pay like 10 analysts with 1 MD bonus, I didn't think they'd cut them to zero.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Apr 7, 2020 - 4:40pm

Damn that sucks - sorry. Just to clarify, was it this year's payout (i.e. 2019 performance related) that is cancelled or the bonus related to this year's performance (2021 payout)? Feels a bit harsh if they were to cancel previously announced bonuses, during payout season

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - Other
Apr 7, 2020 - 5:11pm

This seems like weird timing. Why would you tell people this in advance? The ideal time to tell people firmwide bonuses are zero is on comp discussion day at year end.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Apr 7, 2020 - 5:30pm

Honestly, this is very abnormal and not really logical. My guess is that this MM was not performing well to begin with and having the excuse of coronavirus gives them an "out" to cut pay- its a really shitty thing to do, especially because its so early so they have been waiting for an opportunity to break the news to you guys. I have spoken with VP-ED level at BB banks and they say that bonuses will be discounted this year, but there's no such thing as canceling the bonus at least for the BB banks. Sorry to hear this at your MM though

Apr 7, 2020 - 5:40pm

I'd be surprised if this happened across a lot of banks, but who knows anymore. I expect a pretty small bonus, but not nothing (we did do a deals in Q1 after all...). If your firm doesn't have a big levfin / rx practice then this year might be tough...since it'll be a slow year for M&A and IPOs until the market settles.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Apr 7, 2020 - 5:51pm

Restructuring has had their foot on the gas lately so if there is a true slowdown for some of us M&A folks we'll probably be shuffled around where needed. I'm closing a deal now so it really does't make sense for a call like this on bonuses so early but when the firm starts bleeding talent they may have to rethink their decision. I'm still getting inbound interest from firms trying to poach me so I just might start taking their calls.

  • Prospect in CorpDev
Apr 7, 2020 - 6:01pm

Thanks for sharing this info. Based on this post and some of your previous comments, I think I’m set to start full-time at your bank this summer. Any visibility on what they plan to do for outstanding FT offers?

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 7, 2020 - 6:09pm

I am pretty sure it is William Blair as my Analyst Friend just wrote me desperately

Apr 7, 2020 - 6:53pm

Lol why does this seem like something out of like Pride and Prejudice or some shit like that.

“Did you hear which one of the neighborhood boys won’t be making it back from the war?”

“I am pretty sure it is William Blair as my gentleman friend just wrote me desperately”

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 7, 2020 - 10:33pm

Can anyone confirm this? worried if its true here it will affect other MM places as Blair is one of the trendsetters in the space.

also do people see this as a bad omen for SA positions? once again, I fear that if Blair cancels their summer program then lots of other MM places (my future firm included) will also cancel.

Apr 8, 2020 - 12:48am

Blair has not indicated they will cancel their programm at all. They are exploring virtual options, and at this point have not made any official changes to the program.

As many others have emphasized before, summer interns are cheap and they need to maintain their future talent pipeline. Remember, there is still 2 full years before summer interns even receive their first full-time bonus, and a lot can change by then

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Apr 8, 2020 - 10:49pm

William Blair pays a stay bonus to analysts at their 2 year mark to incentivize them to finish their 2 years after they get their big bonus in February. If you stay until the 2.5 year mark that stay bonus is taken out of your bonus (it’s essentially an advance on your bonus). The firm announced last week they wouldn’t be paying that bonus to 2nd years, but they didn’t say anything about the full bonuses in Feb 2021

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 7, 2020 - 9:58pm

how can bankers afford their expensive apartments and live the lavish life ?? is this really bad? because bonuses could be like 50% of all in comp on a year over year basis historically

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Apr 7, 2020 - 11:46pm

what the fuck? this is non sense. banks are the only single institution that has been making tons of money off of this crisis. clients requests are flooding. if you get zero bonuses it means your bank wasn’t performing during the whole year, not this now. that’s if it is for 2019. if it is for this year, I think think it is irrational, they are making money and people are working in a pandemic. you need to know what other banks are doing because I think this is BS.

Apr 8, 2020 - 12:05am

I think there is a chance that this firm (and others) might be trying to deaden the blow of potential layoffs. I think a lot of banks will be cutting headcount in the next 12 months. By announcing early that "bonuses are cancelled due to lack of hustle, deal with it", there will be more organic attrition between now and year end. Bankers who were planning to leave after one more payday don't need to grind it out for another 9 months. Then, at the end of the FY, they can lay off 4% instead of 8% or whatever.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Apr 8, 2020 - 12:12am

Spot on. Firm is doing everything to prevent layoffs right now including partners taking massive pay cuts but of course layoffs could still happen but it's best to let the herd thin itself first. If things get back to normal there is obviously ample time to reinstitute bonuses but I think a lot of banks will do this they just aren't announcing it yet.

Apr 8, 2020 - 1:21am

It’s tough/tight for analysts I’ll agree but if you didn’t leave beyond your means you should be ok / lucky to have the job with such low activity right now. $150K-250K translates to $7-12k in net cash pay for most associates and VPs. If you rented Apts that cost more than 3-4K It’s on you. Even for analysts, your monthly paycheck should be $4.5-5k. After $2k in rent, $500 in groceries and max $1k in student loans you shouldn’t be going broke. Def not over the FL workers w
$265/wk unemployment (ok $600 more now)

Apr 8, 2020 - 2:39pm

Strong suggestion of HL based on mentioning of restructuring practice. Shocked that so many posters think this could be BMO, Baird, or Blair considering these firms don’t have restructuring practices. Then again, this is WSO after all...

Interesting mention of KPMG below given the absurdity of making this kind of announcement at this time.

Meh. What do I know.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 8, 2020 - 4:26pm

No way this is HL. They have one of the best restructuring practices around and the entire RX department would leave tomorrow if they got no bonuses this year. Any bank on the street would love to hire the HL restructuring team so there is no chance they will not be getting bonuses or else they would all lateral to Moelis/Evercore/etc tomorrow. KPMG makes way more sense (and for everyone else on this forum freaking out, KPMG is very different from your average bank so don't go crazy yet).

Apr 8, 2020 - 5:37pm

Confirmed it is KPMG - I confirmed with a friend in the UK.

Apparently the wording is ‘significantly reduced or in worst case no bonuses this year’ or similar.

That solves that one.

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 7:34am

$0.02 from someone who works at KPMG CF. Confirmed our bonuses were cut but not sure OP works there. Sure seems like KPMG but OP made a comment about FT offers which makes me think otherwise. We don't have an analyst or intern program, hiring is done more on an ad hoc as needed basis so we don't have "incoming analysts" as most banks do. Could be KPMG but that comment kind of stood out to me.

Apr 10, 2020 - 2:02pm

I was on the conference call this week

Confirmed there was such an announcement, but they didn't explicitly say zero - they were just managing expectations that "variable pay will be reduced, and partners will bear the brunt of this"

I would still expect to get something personally given I am going to be very busy through the rest of the performance year

I also found it hilarious that the restructuring partner was saying business is booming and they are looking to grow restructuring as a service line with international offices. The TS partner then said they expect the economy to bounce back and everything to go back to normal

Those two sound mutually exclusive to me...

Apr 9, 2020 - 1:18pm

Makes sense to cancel the bonuses but MDs out there also need to take their foot off the gas pedal.

If there is nothing actionable right now and your team isn't getting bonuses, don't work them 80 hours a week in the middle of this shitstorm.....and I know for a fact that a lot of this BS is going on. MDs are freaking out and pitching tons of 1 in a million chance deals and keeping guys up all night on totally unactionable pitches.

Apr 9, 2020 - 4:31pm


Makes sense to cancel the bonuses but MDs out there also need to take their foot off the gas pedal.

If there is nothing actionable right now and your team isn't getting bonuses, don't work them 80 hours a week in the middle of this shitstorm.....and I know for a fact that a lot of this BS is going on. MDs are freaking out and pitching tons of 1 in a million chance deals and keeping guys up all night on totally unactionable pitches.

Apr 9, 2020 - 4:42pm


Makes sense to cancel the bonuses but MDs out there also need to take their foot off the gas pedal.

If there is nothing actionable right now and your team isn't getting bonuses, don't work them 80 hours a week in the middle of this shitstorm.....and I know for a fact that a lot of this BS is going on. MDs are freaking out and pitching tons of 1 in a million chance deals and keeping guys up all night on totally unactionable pitches.

They don't care about you, or me.

But they do want to look like a hero.

Apr 9, 2020 - 7:10pm

If I was positioning myself as a growing bank I would for sure keep bonuses strong at the Junior level.

I’ll get some MS for this, but I strongly believe in compensation based placement of talent into competing labor markets. if you’re smart/dedicated enough to land IB without family connects, you can def do the same in tech.

I’m sure some kids who positioned themselves to make bank early on are kicking themselves, but what can you do.

Mostly I feel bad for all the kids signing FT offers that aren’t going to get jack squat in signing bonuses. Before this shit all happened kids were taking in 75k+ in signing.

Apr 11, 2020 - 2:54am

Are you still working and is your desk still trading or making deals right now? I can understand this if everyone is at home and not trading or making deals.

I work at a large bank, some are still going to the office or working from home. We are still trading and expect bonuses, day to day volumes are down but we're still on target thus far mostly thanks to good trades made during the dip.

Apr 12, 2020 - 3:53pm

This is my first posting and I'm finding the commentary that's going on in this thread quite interesting to put it politely. I'm also bored so I figured that I'd post something.
Having started in the industry just after the 87 crash I remember when a lot of the major firms were acquired by banks or disappeared.
In good times bonuses are good and in times like this they aren't.
Some of my longest hours were after LTCM imploded and after the internet bubble burst and bonuses sucked or were zero. It's the nature of the beast and the bonus pools are for the most part controlled at the top of the house and funded by profits.
I realize that I'm ancient and the industry is constantly evolving but right now the thought process at the top is how can expenses be minimized without turning to mass terminations. It is not around maintaining bonuses. If this were 20 years ago the terminations probably would have started a couple of weeks ago.
Even most people under a direct drive model of compensation will see a significant hit this year and maybe going forward.
What is going on now is structurally different and pretty much hitting every sector and part of logistic chains. It sucks but it sucks everywhere right now.

Apr 12, 2020 - 7:52pm

I understand your viewpoint, but I find it to be a relatively dated view.

Compensation in the 80s / 90s / 00s was meaningfully more variable in both directions. However, comp trends over the past decade have been unfavorable with meaningful risk to the downside in bad years and little upside in good years.

Also, it would be intersting to understand COL-adjusted base pay over the last thirty years. As an NYC resident, I know that my Director-level IB base pay barely covers my living expenses throughout the year. Year-end "bonuses" are relied upon by bankers to make them whole. I suspect that very few people would choose to work on Wall Street to play for base pay.

Apr 13, 2020 - 10:54am


As an NYC resident, I know that my Director-level IB base pay barely covers my living expenses throughout the year. Year-end "bonuses" are relied upon by bankers to make them whole.

Then you're doing some pretty poor financial planning. Leaving aside the fact that $275k "barely covers your living expenses" despite being 4x the average NYC income, you're budgeting based on non-guaranteed income. Would you advise someone to create a personal budget that was highly dependent on their investment returns? While IB bonuses are a bit more predictable than the S&P, they still carry risk.

Apr 13, 2020 - 5:02pm

I wish there was a way to see an actual email from HR instead of so many people on this website spreading rumors. Not that you are lying, but so frustrating with so much bs.....!!!

Apr 14, 2020 - 10:24am

Reading the comments on this is quite surreal.
"no one should work 80 hours without a bonus"
"they can't afford not to pay junior analyst"

Now read: Y.O.U D.O.N'T D.E.S.E.R.V.E A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G

We are about to enter a monster recession, what the fed is doing is alchemy and it could blow up the whole lab. What do you do for a living? Let's break it down - the basic function of a bank is to loan money to people. A lot of those people won't pay back so you won't get paid back. If you don't get paid back, you don't have money you lose money - if you don't have money you can't pay bonuses. It's really that simple. The next step is for you to actually lose your job - you shouldn't be worried about a lack of bonus in this environment - worry about your fucking job.

We don't give a fuck that you worke 80 hours per week. Some kid in Indonesia is probably working 120 hours in a mine and can't feed himself. There is no fairness in this world.

In 2008 I was given a $10k bonus - my boss told me - you are really lucky we are giving anything this time. And he was right, because most of my mates for the next two years were getting fired with no bonus and no base and a shit economy to find anything.

What pisses me off the most is that your base salary is already OUTRAGEOUS for what you do. Be fucking happy you have that. They were multiplied by 2 taking into account inflation for when I was a junior.

To OP: to be honest this is not that bad - at least you know for sure you won't get a bonus and can release the gas a bit and stop stressing about it this year.

A bit of a rant - but some of the comments just drove me to it.
Anything you get this year - is exactly what it is, it should be considered a BONUS and you should be damn happy to get anything (unless of course you are part of a boutique that only does restructuring and will make a shit load of money, unfortunately if you are a restructuring team in a big bank - you have to feed the rest of the machine and there won't be much left for you)

Apr 20, 2020 - 11:03am

It isn’t that far off base, although if you focus strictly on investment banking with a standard 2 year program that is less of a thing but still a thing. Recruiting and retaining top talent is tough, while banking at the junior level is a bit more of a mechanical “crank work out” finding good people is still tough.

Don’t get me wrong, analysts are replaceable (as are most employees), and while they are harder to replace in PE, HF, etc for the most part they are replaceable.

That being said, there are a few things to consider:

1) what are your competitors doing? If competitors pay bonuses and you don’t, your analysts will leave, that sucks.

2) what is your brand at the schools you are recruiting at (tied to #1 above)? If you give 0 bonuses and others don’t, your brand is shot. Summer analysts and first year analysts will talk to their friends, and no one wants to work at the bank that is getting crushed and treating their employees “poorly”.

3) how expensive is it? Couple 1 and 2 from above and then diff that to the $ cost. Paying junior employees a bonus is relatively cheap. Senior employees are willing to take more of a hit because 1) they can afford it and 2) their comp is more variable and if they can get through this they will benefit, they need junior employees to get through this.

4) how is your comp structured? For most senior employees comp is much more tied to equity. So when (if) things improve they will benefit from this, they capture the upside and more of the downside too. Junior people are all cash and for the most part “need” it (this is the upper class “need”) so with the senior people you can just give more equity/deferred so that you have more cash available.

That being said, I expect bonuses to be hit this year.

Apr 14, 2020 - 12:39pm

yeah, you’re not going to get a bonus.

yeah it fuckin sucks im feeling it too, didn’t sign up for 100 hour weeks to get paid less than the idiots I know doing SWE for 35 hours a week

yeah your firms know you don’t think of bonus as a variable comp and you should

yeah they have bigger problems to worry about

yeah the whole world is getting fucked

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jun 3, 2020 - 12:12am

I imagine the EBs that have solid RX practices will be fine? EVen for those not in the RX groups, since they all share the same bottom line, no?

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Jun 3, 2020 - 12:26pm

To those saying that analysts are acting spoiled and entitled for being furious about the prospect of not getting bonuses, I strongly disagree. Why?

  • At the junior level, you have no say whatsoever in the success of your firm / group - you are not helping build relationships or generate revenue, you are doing what you are told. From my experience, the junior bonus pool is pretty independent from the team’s P&L (at least when it does really well, let’s see how it ends up now)
  • Doing this job for a base of $80-90k is just a ridiculous ask. If you work 80 hours per week (for 50 weeks), that shakes up to be ~$20 per hour. I’m not saying that IB Analysts are the smartest people around, but that’s obviously a disgraceful salary for someone with a good education, working for a very profitable firm. Of course the reason we accept this, because even with the bonus it’s still awful, is the huge upside to future career / salary. Anyways, my point is that the reason for these bonuses is to incentivize analysts to work hard and do a good job. Only that. So that analysts fight for the extra 40-50k they can make per year. It’s not because it would devastate the firm to pay them all $120k per year. So yes, while the bonus technically is discretionary, it is absolutely expected and cutting it would be outrageous at junior levels.
  • On the senior / MD levels, that’s a different ballgame in my opinion. These guys literally get paid based on the revenue they generate, and if markets are tough, that’s tough for them - but the best guys will always find opportunities / get the first call in times of crises.
  • Many analysts are working even more during the crisis, given MDs need to be in front of clients all the time, pitching the wildest ideas, using the “quiet” time to do all the ridiculous stuff they never had time for... punishing analysts by reducing their bonus despite of this would be a huge middle finger.

In the end, it’s true that many analysts are leaving anyways and it’s not like not paying bonuses should have huge repercussions. But they should think about the long term impact:
A) From my end, I’ll make sure to do everything in my power to make sure that my future firm never does business with my bank. I’ve been extremely loyal to my bank and my team, and I’m thankful for having the opportunity to have worked there - but if they decide they want to save $50-100k by not giving me a bonus, I’ll be happy to save them millions in future revenues too. Loyalty goes both ways and how you treat people should have consequences, good and bad.
B) If your bank cuts all bonused and others don’t, good luck getting the best talent. And this will drive even more smart people from banking to something else.

Just my two cents. Would love to hear if people agree / disagree.

Jun 3, 2020 - 8:20pm

Folks need to stop referencing the GFC when justifying why X or Y will happen or should happen this year. Yes, the economy overall might suffer more in the short-term than it did during the GFC, but when it comes to analyst bonuses, headcount, or anything among those lines, you should not use the GFC as a baseline.

Dude, in the GFC banks were illiquid and on the brick of bankruptcy, it was a completely different ball game. It is not like banks were just trying to cut costs here and there, they HAD to do that, there was no other option.

I do believe there will be a small haircut to analyses bonuses, but folks need to seriously stop using the "during the GFC.." arugment. 

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