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Number of high earners in EU finance groups rises sharply

The number of high earners across the EU’s financial institutions leapt in 2015 compared with a year earlier, increasing by 33 per cent. The European Banking Authority, which collated the data, attributed the rise to the weak euro against the pound at the time.

Since the UK’s vote to leave the EU last June sterling’s strength against the euro has been battered.

The vast majority of those earning more than €1m were based in the UK, which accounted for 4,133 of the 5,142 high earners across the EU.

One example revealed in the anonymous data was of a UK-based asset manager who earned a €34m bonus compared with a base salary of €199,000.

An EU law limiting capping bonuses at 100 per cent of salary — or 200 per cent with special shareholder approval — took effect in 2014. This is the first data set to be released since the bonus cap has been in place.

The average ratio of bonuses to fixed income rose, despite the ban, from 127 per cent to 147 per cent, according to the EBA.

However, it was largely the asset-management sector that skewed the statistics: its ratio of bonus to fixed pay was as high as 468 per cent, the EBA said. The UK was among member states that declined to extend the bonus cap to asset managers and other smaller institutions beyond banking.

The UK was a staunch critic of the cap generally, launching a legal challenge before eventually abandoning it. The UK believes that the cap distorts fixed pay, and makes it harder for regulators to insist on meaningful clawback of compensation if there is misconduct.

The UK’s highest-earning asset manager still had to defer nearly half of their bonus, the EBA’s statistics show.

Even in banking, where the bonus cap applies, the UK was still home to the best-paid employees.

One UK investment banker was paid an €8m bonus on top of his or her €11m salary, while a manager of a UK-based institution was paid variable pay of just under €14m in addition to €12m salary, the data show.

Via FT