Bank of America Corp.’s leaders are planning year-end bonuses that break with Wall Street traders’ hopes for hefty raises after a record-setting run.
Senior executives are floating plans to keep the bonus pool for sales and trading at last year’s level, despite a 20% jump in revenue during the first nine months of this year, according to people briefed on the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The process is still in an early stage and will go through rounds of negotiation and approvals.
The bank’s leadership is weighing rewards against the strains of a pandemic that’s dragged on the consumer division and added expenses. But the restraint already is triggering outrage among staff who expected to be paid handsomely for a banner year.
Executives still have time to lobby for larger payouts to top-performing desks, and may indeed wrangle more money, some of the people said. But even then, increases will probably be modest.
A company spokesman declined to comment.
The tensions inside Bank of America offer a window into conversations likely to unfold in coming weeks across Wall Street, where major banks pay close attention to rivals’ compensation decisions when setting their own payouts.
Legions of traders have been hoping to share the spoils from 2020’s wild markets, in which the pandemic and U.S. politics repeatedly set off gushers of client orders.
But industry leaders are contending with broader problems, including losses on loans, the possibility that the trading windfall won’t last and the optics of handing out wads of cash to well-paid staff in a time of economic misery.