Not long ago, people at JPMorgan were feeling good about the prospect of getting paid this year.
Compared to their US rivals, they had an exceptional fourth quarter - particularly in FICC, where JPMorgan's revenues fell a mere 12% quarter-on-quarter (after tax and adjusting for the changing value of own debt). This was versus an enormous 32% decline at Citigroup and precipitous 40% reduction at Goldman.
In the circumstances, they thought they might get paid.
Sadly, all that optimism seems to have been misplaced. JPMorgan announced its bonuses last week and headhunters claim there wasn't much cause for celebration at all.
"JPMorgan people aren't very happy," alleges the head of one equities-focused search firm. "In fact, they're very miserable. The bank's been doing very well and it hasn't paid its staff. Just because the bank to your left isn't paying, that doesn't mean you have to do the same."
"JPMorgan have right-priced to the street," claims the head of a fixed income boutique. "On the whole, bonuses seem to be down 20-30% across the business. There's some disappointment as they've done well and were the winner from the crisis, but people need to understand that there's a penalty for working for a big brand like that.
"The senior, long term guys understand how it works," he adds.
Another senior fixed income headhunter says a lot of people at JPMorgan are, "pretty happy," and that traders and corporate salespeople have done fairly well.
However, according to Dealbreaker, some bonuses at JPM's prime brokerage division have been curtailed by 75% this year.
In reality, this may merely be the norm.
"It's the same everywhere," says a fixed income headhunter. "People are paying their performers by taking bonus levels down 60-70% for everyone else."
For 2010, average compensation at JPMorgan is $369k. For 2009, it was $379k. However, that $369k takes into consideration JPM's contribution to the UK bonus tax. When the bonus tax is deducted, JPMorgan's paying $349k a head in its investment bank.