JPMorgan firing traders, realigning pay amid slump

, Bloomberg

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JPMorgan Chase & Co., grappling with Wall Street's worst year for stock-trading since 2008, cut pay at the equities unit about 4 percent and pushed out about three dozen employees, people with knowledge of the moves said.

About two dozen U.S. traders and sales staff were fired, and some senior employees left voluntarily as the unit aligned pay more closely with revenue, said the people, asking to not be identified because the measures aren't public. The bank also dismissed equity analysts last week, three people said, with one saying about a dozen were affected. Industrywide equities-trading revenue fell 5 percent last year, the third straight annual drop, according to analytics firm Coalition Ltd.

JPMorgan has pared equities jobs each year since 2008, former and current executives said. Equities-trading chief Tim Throsby has been reviewing the unit since around March, these people said. Assisted by Marc Badrichani and Jason Sippel, they found that pay for equities traders and sales staff was too high compared with revenue, the people said.

The unit posted a 1.8 percent drop in revenue to $4.4 billion last year, compared with a 4 percent gain in fixed-income trading revenue to $15.4 billion. About three managing directors and 18 executive directors were cut, including Andrew Crofton and Julian Plant, current and former executives said. Kevin Smart, a vice president, also left, two people said.

Jennifer Zuccarelli, a spokeswoman for the New York-based company, said she couldn't comment on the departures. Plant declined to comment, while Crofton and Smart didn't respond to messages. The bank's stock has gained 12 percent this year.

Trading Plunges

Equities trading was hardest-hit by job cuts in 2012, with the top 10 investment banks eliminating 2,700 front-office workers, or about 14 percent, according to data released by Coalition. Equities-trading revenue at the 10 banks was $33 billion, the lowest since 2008, Coalition said.

Cash equities, the trading of common shares on public exchanges, produced $10 billion in revenue at the 10 largest investment banks, down 40 percent from 2008 as firms grappled with plunging volume, the data show.

Equities account for about a quarter of total trading and investment-banking revenue. They include commissions and gains from buying and selling stocks, futures, options and other equity derivatives, as well as fees and interest income from providing services and lending to hedge funds.

Throsby and other executives prepared staff in the Americas for reductions and lower pay with a conference call on Jan. 17, the day after the bank reported a record $21.3 billion in net income for 2012. Headcount, executives said, would be coming down, according to two people on the call. The bank would probably replace more highly paid senior executives with less-costly junior traders and sales staff, they said.

Pay in the broader investment bank, which includes dealmakers and fixed-income traders, fell by about 3 percent in 2012, people briefed on the compensation said this month.

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