Citigroup is raising its employees' base salaries by up to 50 percent, the Times reports today, to offset smaller annual bonuses.
The shift means that most Citigroup employees will make as much money as they did in 2008, although some might earn more and others less. The company also plans to award millions of new stock options to employees in an effort to retain workers and neutralize a precipitous drop in the value of their stock holdings.
The bare fact that Citi is raising its salaries by 50 percent is predictably raising some hackles, but to be fair, it doesn't seem so bad. First of all, it's a step away from the Big Bonus culture of banking that the populace has been raging against in the first place. It's like they're baristas, and instead of making them shill for tips with a jar, they're employers have raised their base salary so that their loyalty is to the company and not the flashy, high-tipping customer. Second, it doesn't seem like a mind-blowingly awesome deal for employees. Citigroup stock is trading around $3 — around $20 less than Home Depot, where employees also have a generous stock-option plan. So hold the outrage: It's only a matter of time before Citi employees start getting paid by the hour.