Canary Wharf at night

How much do bankers really earn?

Wish we could get a 100 per cent bonus on top of our salaries...

Bankers earn a lot. We know this. But the amount of money a banker actually takes home is usually even bigger than their 'base salary', depending on where the bank they work at is from, and what country they're in.

In most jobs, you negotiate a salary, do your work, and get paid for it. In , and a bunch of other industries, it works a bit differently. You'll get paid your salary, but the real $$ comes from your bonus: an extra dollop of cash added on depending on how well you've done that year. The more money you make the bank, the more you get.

It's basically messing with the incentives system the employer is setting up for the workers: instead of just expecting you to 'do the job', it's encouraging you to compete with each other to score the best deals and therefore up your chances at a mega-bonus before Christmas.

But it can be dangerous, too: speaking in 2009, a group of UK MPs argued that a mega-bonus culture caused "a lethal combination of reckless and excessive risk taking" – in other words, bankers doing anything to get the biggest deals, including things that put the future safety of the bank and all its customers at risk.

So what do the figures actually look like, and how does it compare across the pond? We break down the numbers.


Working for a UK bank in the UK = $$

Think RBS, Barclays, HSBC.


Working for a European bank in the UK = $$$

Think Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas.

In the UK and the EU, the government restricts how high bonuses can go. The EU 'banker bonus cap' regulation restricts the amount of bonus any banker can earn to 100% of their salary – so if a director at Barclays is on £170,000 a year, they couldn't earn more than £170,000 in bonuses.

Working for a US bank in the UK = $$$$$$$$$$$$$

Think JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley.

Even with regulation, bankers are still some of the best paid people in the UK. And there's evidence to suggest that banks are increasing base salary rates to keep attracting the best people.

Alice Leguay, who works for the company that collected all this data, said: "While stringent regulations have capped bonus amounts substantially in the last 10 years, the banking industry is still by far the best paying sector."

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