Comptroller: Wall Street average bonus topped $184K in 2017

March 26, 2018 GMT

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A second consecutive year of soaring profits on Wall Street pushed the average bonus paid to securities industry employees in New York City to more than $184,000 in 2017, New York state’s top elected fiscal officer reported Monday.

The average bonus paid to brokers rose 17 percent to $184,220, Democratic Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. Pretax profits for the Wall Street broker-dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms — the traditional measure of securities industry profits — jumped 42 percent to $24.5 billion, the highest level since 2010, according to DiNapoli.

In 2016, pretax profits topped $17 billion. According to the comptroller’s office, the average Wall Street bonus that year was $138,000.

“The large increase in profitability over the past two years demonstrates that the industry can prosper with the regulations and consumer protections adopted after the financial crisis,” DiNapoli said.


The annual accounting of bonuses paid to the securities workers serves as an indicator of how the financial services industry is doing. It also gives city and state tax collectors an idea of how much to expect from taxes on the billions of dollars in bonuses Wall Street brokerage firms pay employees.

Employment among the city’s securities firms dipped slightly, to just under 177,000 jobs in 2017 after three consecutive years of job growth, DiNapoli said. An estimated 1 in 10 jobs in the city are either directly or indirectly associated with the securities industry, he said.

The comptroller’s annual report on Wall Street bonuses said the average salary, including bonuses, in the city’s securities industry was $375,200 in 2016, the latest year data was available. That’s five times higher than in the rest of the private sector, DiNapoli said.

DiNapoli estimated the securities industry accounted for 18 percent, or $13.5 billion, of state tax collections in the state’s 2016-2017 fiscal year and 6 percent, or ($3.2 billion, of New York City tax collections in the city’s 2017 fiscal year.

The Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington-based think tank that calls itself “a policy and research resource for visionary social justice movements,” said the 2017 total bonus pool contains enough money to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour for to all the nation’s 3.2 million restaurant servers and bartenders.

The group said the size of the payouts is a sign of what it called “the reckless Wall Street bonus culture which contributed to the 2008 financial crisis continues to flourish.”

DiNapoli said it’s too soon to determine how the volatility in the financial markets so far in 2018 will impact year-end Wall Street profits.