Muted financial markets mean that Santa Claus is unlikely to bring City workers bumper Christmas bonuses this year.
Despite expectations running high, Morgan McKinley chairman Ken Brotherston has warned City workers not to be overly optimistic this festive season.
“While top performers will always be rewarded, the majority of those expecting big increases are likely to be disappointed,” he said.
“Business conditions in the City are more muted than they were earlier this year, and while the City is in good shape and bonuses will be healthy, 2004 is not going to be the bumper year some are hoping for,” he added.
What boost there is in pay packets will mostly be on the back of stronger financial markets earlier in 2004, said the consultancy.
While more than a third of City workers – 34 per cent - expected bonuses to be up at least 65 per cent this year, for the majority bonuses would be up some 35 per cent.
Those working in the fixed income and derivatives financial sectors are most likely to on the end of a financial windfall.
To add more cold water to the Christmas cheer, City salaries, despite being up over the long term, have also been experiencing a short-term dip of late, said Morgan McKinley.
One reason for this is that City recruitment has slowed since September in many areas, although this is partly a seasonal trend as people will often stay put until the bonus season is over.
A greater worry, perhaps, for City recruiters and those looking to move within the Square Mile, are projections from the Centre for Economics and Business Research that it will take the City some years to get back to the jobs’ peak seen in 2001.
According to the Sunday Times newspaper, the CEBR’s confidential City jobs briefing has predicted City and related jobs will rise by just 4,000 to 313,000 this year.
The next two years will be little better, rising to 315,000 and 317,000 respectively, it estimated.