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FX bonuses: Shouldn’t complain

This is a conversation I could have had this week with almost anyone working in FX for a bank: “Was your bonus any good?” I might ask. “I shouldn’t complain,” would be the reply. “But I will anyway,”

The oft-made statement about 2008 being a bad year to have a good year has become a stark reality. As well as coping with the disappointment of bonuses that have almost certainly not matched expectations, many market participants must also deal with public resentment about what they do for a living.

The daily diet of outraged headlines screaming about bonuses for the ‘fat cat bankers’ who have caused the global economy to melt down depresses me – and I’m only on the periphery of the industry. Unfortunately, many people actually believe what they read in the mass media and this can have a knock-on effect. One contact tells me he has stopped going to his local pub on a Friday night because the conversation at the bar always turns to what a disgrace it is to pay anybody in the City what they may deserve and that he is personally responsible for the dire state of the global economy.

Most people in FX will be realistic enough to know that it has become impossible to pay them what they would have got just a year ago for making the same amount of money. The fact is that if an institution is on its knees, it has to cut back on its costs, and that includes staff remuneration.

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