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Japanese banks' bonuses are coming. People are wondering about all those guarantees

If you work for a US investment bank, your 2023 bonus is a thing of the past. If you work for a Japanese investment bank, it is a thing of the future. Japanese bank bonus season is coming, soon.

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At Nomura, for example, people tell us their bonuses are due to be announced around May 8th. Nomura isn't commenting, but we understand that the actual depth of the Nomura bonus pool will be determined next week. Other Japanese banks, including Mizuho, MUFJ and SMBC are thought to be on similar timelines.

How will these Japanese bank bonuses be? Insiders caution against generalizations: different banks are in different situations. At Nomura, for example, profits in the wholesale division, including operations in London and New York were down 24% year-on-year in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, and jobs are being cut. At Mizuho, however, profits of US-based entities were up 33% over the same period. At SMBC, global markets profits were up 17%,

The discrepancy helps explain diverging expectations.  At Nomura, optimism is tempered. At Mizuho in New York, we detect a degree of excitement.

It's not just about the bottom line, though. Nomura insiders are also wary of the firm's recent hiring, especially in the rates sales and trading, where the London office has been hiring multiple top traders from Deutsche Bank, allegedly on impressive packages. "Europe looks like it will have an awful time," says one US-based Nomura insider. "The guarantees have totally screwed the bonus pool there."

Mizuho, SMBC and MUFJ have also been hiring, with the latter two in particular availing themselves of talent leaving Citi. However, sources at these banks seem a bit more bullish on their coming bonuses. "We're growing, so I'm hopeful that our bonuses will be ok," says one banker at Mizuho in New York.

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Photo by Ryunosuke Kikuno on Unsplash

author-card-avatar
AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • PO
    POORHOUSE
    10 May 2024

    Nomura’s pay and bonuses were indeed given out on 8 May think the bankers were happy the firm saved some money by giving the assistants a big fat zero pay increase

  • FI
    FIFOLifer
    9 May 2024

    Sarah, it’s MUFG. I wouldn’t mention it if you hadn’t used a ‘J’ multiple times. Good work otherwise.

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