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Asia's biggest payers unmasked

The top paying banks in Asia next year will likely be Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank, and Morgan Stanley, headhunters say after figures came in revealing the top earning investment banks in Asia ex-Japan.

Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs was the top-earning investment bank in the region for the first nine months of the year, with estimated revenue topping US$224m, according to capital markets data provider Dealogic. UBS was second, with US$181m in estimated revenue, followed by JP Morgan Chase with US$130m. Morgan Stanley, which was the top-earning investment bank last year with revenue of US$240 million, was fourth with US$119 million.

"Most good fixed income salespeople get paid around 10% of what they make in revenues. The top paying banks often allocate 12-15% to top salespeople," says a headhunter in Hong Kong, adding that a good fixed income salesperson in Asia will generate US$10m in revenues for a firm while an outstanding salesperson can make as much as US$15m. "I am not sure how wages compares with the US and UK but I know that top salespeople in NY and London will generate $25 million in business and be entitled to the same 10% allocation in pay."

Banks that pay less tend to be the big retail banks, with the exception of HSBC, Standard Chartered and Citibank. On the whole European houses pay less than the US houses with the exception of BNP Paribas and Barclays Capital, who both pay well.

"Just because you're a top earning investment bank in Asia doesn't mean you pay the most," says another headhunter in Hong Kong. "Quite often it's the other way around, as firms doing less well look to attract talent so they can compete."

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