Bonuses looking smaller at Nordea, but bigger at SEB

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Staff costs at Nordea rose sharply in the past three months, it emerged this week, despite the amount set aside for bonuses actually falling compared with last year.

Nordea's staff costs rose 8% to €721m in Q3 compared with Q3 2009, and were up 4% year-on-year in the nine months from January to September, the bank said.

The bank added that it had set aside €66m for performance-related salaries in Q3, up from €60m in Q2 but down from €70m it set aside in the third quarter of last year.

"The final decision on payout of performance-related salaries will be made based on the full-year financial outcome," said president and CEO Christian Clausen.

At SEB, meanwhile, overall staff costs fell 5% in the nine months to September, in large part because of the bank shedding 1,086 full-time employees, around half of them located in the Baltics.

But within its merchant banking division staff costs were up 13% in Q3 year-on-year, to SEK875m against SEK775m, while within wealth management they were ahead 3%.

Over the nine months as a whole, however, staff costs in both divisions were respectively static and down 1%, it added.

For Nordea, private banking was one area doing particularly well, the figures showed, with 47,500 extra customers being taken on in the quarter, said Clausen.

Income within corporate merchant banking was ahead 23% against the same period last year, he added, although looking forward lower income from Treasury and markets would lead to lower risk-adjusted group profit for 2010 compared with 2009.

The bank's "Growth Plan Finland" had led to the recruitment of close to 100 new advisers and specialists in "high-growth areas" and its "Growth Plan Poland" had meant 40 new branches had opened during 2010.

DnB Nor also reported figures this week, revealing that "wage and price inflation" had added NOK136m to its costs in Q3 compared to the same point a year ago.

Overall, though, expenses for the group fell by NOK166m through the implementation of a tough cost-reduction, branch closure and redundancies programme, which saved the bank NOK183m in the period.

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