Bankers' remuneration has rarely been out of the spotlight over the last five years, as the industry's powerhouses were rescued from the brink during the financial crisis with hundreds of billions of taxpayers' dollars.
Capping absolute pay levels is off-limits for regulators, but banks have talked a lot about cutting staff costs.
Reuters analysed the 2012 results reported by banks in the benchmark EuroStoxx 600 index and their U.S. competitors and found staff costs rose to $357.4bn across the group.
Two thirds of the banks analysed increased compensation per person, though several attributed this at least in part to redundancy issues. The compensation ratio - the industry's preferred yardstick, which measures staff expenses against revenue - was up for 18 of the 35 banks.
Banks say the figures can be deceptive. They have been cutting jobs, with 93,000 shed across the group in 2012, falling heaviest on some of the loss makers. The lay-offs incur redundancy costs that are grouped in with overall staff compensation, which also includes pensions and payroll taxes.
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image: © Brooks Elliott