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Saturday, 28 February 2009

Half of bankers would quit UK if bonuses capped: poll

LONDON (Reuters) - Half of British bankers would consider leaving the country if a cap were put on their cash bonuses, a survey showed on Friday.

The poll by jobs website eFinancialCareers.com found that 49 percent of British-based bankers would consider voting with their feet such a limit to their income were introduced. That figure rose to 71 percent among financiers with six to ten years experience.

"Were bonuses to be capped unilaterally in the UK, the country would run the risk of an exodus of top financial talent," said John Benson, chief executive of eFinancialCareers.

However, the number of alternative locations in which to work has shrunk dramatically as the credit crisis has hit hiring and pay around the world.

"(That) 71 percent (of people with six to 10 years experience) would move abroad I don't doubt, given the opportunity. That last word is the operative word," said Shaun Springer, who heads recruitment firm Napier Scott.

"If you could tell me of the areas that could harbor those skill sets (of bankers), please let me know -- I'll be flying out there."

U.S. President Barack Obama this month set a $500,000 cap on executive pay at state-backed banks -- pocket money on Wall Street before the crisis.

European banks are also under pressure to curb bonuses, especially those that have taken government help, and many have cut them.

Thirty-three percent of bankers polled said they believed caps on cash bonuses are the most likely change to be implemented over the next year and 39 percent support such caps.

The poll was conducted between February 16 and February 20, with 888 financial professionals responding.

(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova; editing by Karen Foster)

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