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Wall Street bonuses rose 15% in 2013 to post-financial-crisis high

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Wall Street bonuses rose 15% in 2013 to post-financial-crisis high

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The average person working in the securities industry earned a cool $164,530 bonus last year — 15% more than a year before.

An aggregate $26.7 billion was paid out in 2013 bonuses to the industry’s 165,200 employees, the highest figure since the 2008 financial crisis, according to figures released Wednesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

To put that bonus-pool figure in perspective, it would be enough to more than double the pay of the more than 1 million full-time workers earning the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.

The bonus increase on Wall Street is a result of firms engaging in deferred compensation, according to the comptroller’s report. Financial firms are now paying out a smaller share of bonuses immediately and are instead deferring a larger share into future years.

DiNapoli’s office noted that the securities industry “navigated through some rough patches last year” and yet was profitable. “Although profits were lower than the prior year, the industry still had a good year in 2013 despite costly legal settlements and higher interest rates,” said DiNapoli. “Wall Street continues to demonstrate resilience as it evolves in a changing regulatory environment.”

Major regulatory reforms since the financial crisis have changed the way the industry does business. Firms are now required to maintain larger reserves, and proprietary trading has been limited, while additional changes are aimed at reducing unnecessary risk and enhancing transparency, the report notes.

In fact, the industry has been profitable for five consecutive years since the financial crisis, which includes its three best years on record. That despite the challenges the industry has faced in light of lower revenues from the core businesses of trading and investment banking.

Several firms, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM and Citigroup Inc. C , have indicated weakness in these areas.

Total Wall Street profits for the broker-dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms were $16.7 billion in 2013, the comptroller’s office said.

Other nuggets gleaned from the report:

• The average salary, including bonuses, paid to securities-industry employees in New York City in 2012 was 5.2 times the average pay in the rest of the private sector, which was about $69,200 as of 2012.

• The securities industry, considered one of the city’s major economic engines, accounts for 22% of all private-sector wages paid in New York, despite accounting for just 5% of the city’s private-sector jobs.

• Tax revenue from Wall Street was approximately $3.7 billion in 2013, a 27% increase from the year before and the second-highest level on record.

Wall Street bonuses rose 15% in 2013 to post-financial-crisis high - The Tell - MarketWatch

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Last Updated on March 12, 2014

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