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What are you really worth?

There can be a hefty difference between perception and reality on debt markets pay these days. One headhunter recalls: "A senior banker called me when I was on a ski lift at Christmas. He said he was going to get only $1 million in the current bonus cycle. He wanted to know whether he had been hard done by as he thought he was worth $2 million. I got a researcher to check what someone in his position and with his job title would usually earn right now. I called him back and said 'you're worth $600,000, so you're doing well'."

One headhunter reckons a mid-range head of origination in Europe probably averages $750,000 in salary and bonus, and a mid-range head of syndicate $600,000. But the conclusions vary. A June salary survey from recruitment firm Napier Scott suggests that syndicate officials tend to earn more than originators. But another headhunter says: "Salary surveys usually overestimate how much people are paid, which puts everyone's noses even further out of joint about what they are getting."

Banks are no longer prepared to let wages account for 80% or 90% of their total revenue. "If you want a $2 million head of origination, you can have one and some people certainly pay for it," says Gindre.

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