Don't expect big bonuses next year either

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Somewhat predictably, there's been something of a furore over the revelation that billions of kroner have been paid out in bonuses by Swedish banks for 2008. However, don't hold your breath for things to bounce back anytime soon, however successfully you're doing.

Sweden's main banks paid out some SKr5.7bn in bonuses last year, according to analysis by The Local.

Nordea shelled out SEKr2.3bn, followed by SEB - considered by some recruiters still to be the most generous - with SKr2.2bn.

Swedbank, so far the only Swedish bank to have taken advantage of October's bank guarantee scheme, paid out SKr950m and Handelsbanken stumped up SKr277m.

"A lot of the banks are looking at their bonus structures and a lot of bonuses are being reduced. The banks are doing OK, but they are still downsizing a bit," concedes Johan Wingren, manager of banking and financial services for Michael Page in Sweden.

"In the past three weeks, I've been speaking to a lot of candidates who are getting zero. There are still key people who will be getting bonuses, of course, but none of the banks are paying as well as they were."

Those that are receiving bonuses are taking home a lot less, says Wingren. Vice president level and above are receiving an average of 20-30% of salary, whereas last year this would have been closer to 50-150%, he reckons.

Adam Buck, managing director at Selby Jennings, says that some smaller players are still willing to offer guaranteed bonuses to lure the right talent.

"Some of the smaller firms are more inclined to pay a guaranteed bonus than the bigger ones, or at the very least match what people were on in terms of their basic last year," he says.

Sales, asset managers and risk and compliance specialists are still in demand, and there are even some signs of renewed interest in more exotic structured products, says Buck.

Wingren agrees that the those in search of a better bonus would do well to look to smaller players.

"For the really small boutiques, almost like a family office or a small private bank, then they will probably still be paying a bit more. But at the same time a lot of people are quite wary of moving to small players right now because of the wider market conditions," he says.

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