Morgan Stanley just announced bonuses ― and fixed-income traders are not happy

Trader

It’s bonus day at Morgan Stanley.

That means the bank is telling employees what they will receive for their work from the previous year. Bonuses, not base salaries, are where bankers make their millions.

Early indications from insiders are that the bonus round was actually pretty good in equities sales and trading, and pretty terrible in fixed income.

There are apparently a lot of doughnuts – finance speak for a no bonus at all – going around.

It isn’t that surprising. Morgan Stanley just cut 25% of its fixed income workforce. The fixed income business had a pretty tough year. Not paying a bonus, to a banker or trader who considers it a fundamental part of their annual compensation, is a great way to signal to an employee that they’re not wanted either.

In an October conference call following the third-quarter earnings report, Morgan Stanley chief executive James Gorman called the third quarter the worst for fixed income, currencies, and commodities since he became CEO in 2010.

There is an argument that still having a job counts as a bonus.

According to a November survey by the Wall Street recruitment firm Options Group, top performers in fixed income bonuses expected bonuses to fall 4%. In credit, securitized products and commodities, however, there were double-digit declines expected.

Morgan Stanley also announced a raft of changes to its sales and trading business on Thursday. As part of those changes, Sam Kellie-Smith will become global head of fixed income and commodities. He previously headed equity trading. Equities chief operating officer Matt Burke was also named COO of sales and trading.

The changes are the first since equities boss Ted Pick, who previously led the equities business, was handed control of the combined markets business.

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