What size bonuses can investment bankers expect in the next few months? On the one hand, they have made oodles of dough for their firms. On the other, their employers face pressure not to be too generous while much of the rest of society is struggling, with regulators wanting them to focus capital resources on lending to the real economy.
And how should an investment banker prepare for a difficult pay-out discussion?
"My advice to people who are concerned that the bonus discussions might not go exactly how they hope in 2021 is to start thinking about it in advance, rather than just react once they receive the bad news," says Paula Chan, a partner at BDBF, a London-based employment law specialist.
This could include reviewing their performance and the bank’s performance over the last year to see whether they have evidence to support how much they think they deserve.
For Deutsche Bank's top managers, performance under review includes sustainability targets, under a new pay regime.
The policy, which will apply to the board and management committee from next year, looks at the annual target volume for sustainable finance, Deutsche's score in a sustainability rating index, and power consumption in its buildings.
Yet it was a different kind of sustainability that was likely to have caught investors' attention at the German bank's investor "deep dive" event last week.
The investment bank is on track to make almost €9.1bn in revenue this year, the bank said, up from €7bn last year. And head of the IB Mark Fedorcik said: "We believe that more than half the revenue growth delivered in 2020 is sustainable and not purely linked to the strong market conditions."
Ram Nayak, who leads the investment bank's core unit of fixed income and currency (FIC) sales and trading, boasted that market share in European government bonds and Euro public sector issuance was the highest it has been in the past five years.
Elsewhere, two US banks have named new heads for their Middle East and North Africa businesses.
Citi has picked Elissar Farah Antonios as cluster head for the region, a newly created role. Chief country officer for the United Arab Emirates since 2016, last year she became the bank's cluster head for the UAE, the Levant area and Iraq.
At Goldman Sachs, Fadi Abuali and Zaid Khaldi will take over as co-chief executives for the region from January 1, replacing Wassim Younan, who is leaving the bank.
Khaldi is head of structured finance for Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the investment banking division, and also oversees the real estate financing franchise. He will move to Dubai. Abuali is chief executive of Goldman Sachs Asset Management International and head of the client business for GSAM EMEA.
Meanwhile, you may remember that earlier this year the UK's Financial Conduct Authority took the London Stock Exchange's chief executive, when Nikhil Rathi was hired to lead the regulator. Now, the FCA has provided the LSE (a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange Group) with a replacement in the form of Julia Hoggett, most recently director of market oversight.
Capital markets participants may be familiar with Hoggett from her time at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where she worked as head of the FIG flow financing business for EMEA, head of covered bonds for EMEA, and head of short term fixed income origination in EMEA.
Finally, over in Germany, Berenberg is understood to have recruited Dominik Bär, an equity capital markets adviser at Lazard. There's more on Berenberg's European growth ambitions here.