Business | Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:12am GMT

London bankers fear bonus "donuts" to double

LONDON (Reuters) - Twice as many London bankers fear the dreaded "donut", or zero bonus, in the current pay season compared to a year ago, according to a survey released on Monday.

Financial services recruitment firm Astbury Marsden said a poll of bankers in London showed 22 percent are not expecting a bonus of any kind from pay awards covering 2012 performance, compared to 11 percent a year ago.

Regulators and politicians are taking a harder line on excessive pay, and Astbury Marsden said 44 percent of those polled cited that pressure as negatively impacting their pay.

Banks including Barclays (BARC.L), Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), UBS UBSN.VX and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) are also keen to cut costs in a tough environment and show they have learned lessons from the past, which is also putting pressure on pay.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicts bonuses for 2012 in London's financial sector will more than halve to 1.6 billion pounds from last year, and will keep falling until 2015.

Bonuses - typically paid in February and March - will be down 86 percent from the record 11.5 billion pounds paid out in 2007/08, the CEBR said.

Bonuses still make up a big percentage of pay in the industry, and managing directors expected them to be worth 88 percent of their base salary.

Almost half of those surveyed said they would look to change employer if they were unhappy with their bonus, the number of those who would look to move overseas fell to 14 percent, half the level of two years ago.

A separate survey released on Monday said a third of London financial workers expect their base pay to rise in 2013, as firms try to attract and retain the best talent.

Recruitment firm Morgan McKinley said 57 percent of financial workers it polled expected compensation to remain relatively flat this year and 33 percent expected a pay rise of up to 10 percent. Half of those expecting an increase cited firms' need to attract and retain the best talent as the main reason.

Morgan McKinley said there was a 36 percent drop in registered job vacancies in financial services in December from the previous month to 1,323 positions, down 24 percent from a year earlier.

It said it expects a pick up this month, as a seasonal slowdown in December was compounded by some banks postponing hiring until the new year.

(Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)