Honig International in the News
December 16, 2002
Wall Street Journal Online
"Bonuses at Wall Street Firms Likely Will Be Soft This Year"
By Cheryl Winokur Munk
Dow Jones Newswires

Bonus season is here for a handful of financial-services companies, and it isn't looking pretty. Employees at Bear Stearns Cos., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Morgan Stanley have already been told or are expected to find out this week how they fared. By some accounts, bonuses will be down by 20% to 70% and even more in other cases, depending on the area.

Barry Honig, principal of Honig International Inc., is expecting that a higher percentage of bonuses will come from stock and options this year, compared with past years. "It's a combination of wanting to pay less cash out, and [it's] also a retention tool," Mr. Honig said.

No one really is expecting much this year, given that many of the firms' businesses still are in the doldrums, layoffs are continuing and management has been talking down expectations for some time. A report by the New York State Comptroller's office on Wall Street bonuses is due out shortly.

Around this time last year, State Comptroller H. Carl McCall estimated that Wall Street firms would pay out $10 billion in bonuses in 2001, compared with $14.3 billion in 2000.

Bonuses vary widely by firm and department, so while some people will be disappointed, others might be pleasantly surprised. Fixed-income, for example, is expected to fare better than research and investment banking. Investment bankers' bonuses are expected to be off by 30% to 50%. Research, meanwhile, is likely to be down by about 25% at some firms.

Representatives at Morgan Stanley, Goldman and Lehman didn't immediately return telephone calls for comment and Bear Stearns couldn't immediately comment. Other firms, including Merrill Lynch & Co., Citigroup Inc.'s Salomon Smith Barney unit, Credit Suisse Group's Credit Suisse First Boston and Deutsche Bank AG, will tell their employees in January and February what their bonuses will be.