Morgan Stanley to Trim 2010 Bonus Pool by 10% to 25%

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Morgan Stanley to Trim 2010 Bonus PoolMorgan Stanley (MS) is planning to pay out 10% to 25% less in bonuses this year to its employees, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed source. The bank is trying to curb pay as it deals with volatile market conditions.

Dozens of managing directors have been informed of the bonus estimates, which might still change in the coming weeks, the source told the Journal. The cuts are slated to affect traders, back-office staff and other major employee groups, but perhaps not unusually strong performers. Also, top executives might be "pressed" to take reduced bonuses this year.

If the bank experiences a surge in revenue in the last few weeks of December, or gets a boost from plans to sell a stake in China International Capital, the bonus reductions might be smaller than currently expected, the paper further reported.

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Last year, pay at the bank amounted to 62% of Morgan Stanley's $23.4 billion revenue. "All indications are that pay will be down," one Morgan Stanley official told The Wall Street Journal. "Gorman has been pretty articulate about that." Bank CEO James Gorman has said he wants to improve profits by pushing pay lower.

But it's not just about his own bank's profits. Gorman has been vocal about taming pay overall on Wall Street. The Journal quotes him from a speech in November, saying that there is an imbalance when "pretty average employees [are] making four, five, ten times what somebody in any other industry would be making, it doesn't quite work right." Gorman also suggested it was time to change the pay model of "heads-I-win, tails-somebody-else-loses" system that he said has been pervasive at banks and securities firms.

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