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Wall Street Bullish on 2009 Bonuses: Survey

The Obama administration sent a shiver up and down Wall Street by cracking down on executive compensation at bailed-out firms, but recent data from eFinancialCareers.com show financial professionals are still bullish on 2009 bonuses.

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According to the survey, 83 percent of Wall Street professionals expect to receive bonuses this year, and one-third expect to receive even bigger bonuses than they did in 2008.

"You can't change 200 years of history overnight," said John Benson, founder and CEO of eFinancialCareers.com. "...Changing the pay structure is going to be an iterative process, because there are always unintended consequences to every change."

Wall Street professionals indicated three main reasons for expecting increased payouts this year: a third said it was primarily because of very low bonuses last year, a quarter attributed it to their personal performance and a quarter said it was due to their firm's overall performance.

"The fundamental issue that seems to still be lost in the furor is that bonuses are not payments on top of great salaries," added Benson. "For many Wall Street professionals, bonuses are the majority of their total compensation and should be viewed more akin to a sales commission."

Just over half of the 1,074 financial services professionals who responded to the survey, which was administered at the end of September, noted their firms have revised bonus policies, but most respondents said their attitudes toward risk haven't changed.