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Credit Suisse bankers arriving at Santander amid tales of huge sign-ons

Riding the wave of generosity

When Nomura acquired Lehman Brothers' European operations in 2008, there was something of a ruckus once it became apparent that Nomura had paid very generous two year guarantees to attract the Lehman stragglers. Following objections from Nomura incumbents, those guarantees were cut to one year. 

Fifteen years later, it seems Santander suffered a similar excess of enthusiasm in recruiting from Credit Suisse. And as happened at Nomura, Santander people are noticing.

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As we reported last week, Santander juniors have been complaining that the Credit Suisse juniors brought on as part of the Spanish bank's US expansion are on combined salary and bonus packages around 30% higher than their own. While the ex-Credit Suisse investment banking analysts at Santander are thought to have received circa $150k+ in New York City, historic Santander juniors are on closer to $115k.

Santander isn't commenting, but one senior headhunter said that if legacy Santander people are upset with the pay discrepancy at the junior end, they'll be furious when they find out how much Santander is paying Credit Suisse MDs. As we reported in May, many of the MDs Santander received from Credit Suisse are thought to have received generous two year packages. "They had to do it to make the team moves happen," says one top New York headhunter. "It was a compromise."

Although Credit Suisse bankers like Steven Geller, Robert Santangelo, Tom Davidov and Sebastian Erik Barleben were reported as joining Santander in May and June, many have only just arrived at the Spanish bank. Geller joined in late August, according to his FINRA registration; Barleben joined in late September. 

The extent of Santander's sign-ons will become clear when the Spanish bank produces its Pillar 3 remuneration disclosure for 2023. Last year's disclosure reveals that it paid a total of €5m in guaranteed bonuses in 2022 and that the average non-management material risk-taker there earned €832k ($877k) in salary and bonus, compared to an average of $960k at Credit Suisse. 

Another NYC headhunter says Santander people don't really have much to complain about. "It's rather like minor-league baseball players complaining when major-league players get hired on larger salaries," he says. "The great majority of Santander people are corporate bankers and commercial bankers, and sadly they tend to be paid less. When they find out how large the guaranteed bonuses are, they will complain even more! "

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Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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