Executives managers and top operational leaders of fund companies appear to be downcast about their compensation even as financial market tensions ease.
Fully 56% of the 126 industry executives surveyed by Money Management Executive in its second annual compensation survey said they are either somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with their pay bonuses and other incentives.
That is down substantially from a year ago. In the first survey 77% of those surveyed said they were somewhat satisfied satisfied or very satisfied with their earnings capacity.
Among the sources of dissatisfaction: Base compensation that has stalled while cost of living has increased a lack of stock options or other non cash incentives and a sense that pay is unfairly distributed within a given fund organization. And, perhaps most pointedly, unnecessary caps on compensation.
"I am better paid than most but should be paid more,'' says one Chicago executive. "There should be no caps on compensation even for non revenue generating positions.''
Notably only about 10% of those that were satisfied with their compensation said that their pay is based on their own results and effort.
The greatest satisfaction-28%-came from respondents who felt their pay stacked up well against industry norms These were individuals who felt their firms appropriately weighed pay and other forms of compensation and treated them fairly.
The second most satisfaction came when a person felt fairly compensated "relative to others in my same position.''
Not surprisingly, the greatest dissatisfaction-22%-came when individuals felt they were not being compensated in a competitive way. And another 19% felt they were not being paid well relative to others in the industry.
A fair amount of dissatisfaction was expressed by those who felt their companies did not have adequate growth potential.
One Minneapolis manager says his numbers are "stale with limited growth potential and are not based primarily on my specific role and responsibilities'' creating dissatisfaction.
The level of pay appears to be expanding at the middle of compensation ranges but not at the low or high ends.
For instance, 6% of respondents said they were making $75 or less four years ago. But only 7% are in that range now.
Similarly only 2% of respondents say they are making $3 or more. But 5 % say they were making $300,000 or more four years ago.
Another 9% say they were making between $150,000 to $200,000 but a full 5% say they were making such compensation four years ago.
"New hires with less experience receive similar compensation and bonus,'' reported one Milwaukee manager.
Bonuses for that matter appear relatively static. Last year 9% of respondents reported getting bonuses equal to 5% or less of their base pay. Only 25% were in that range this year.
But last year, 24% said they were getting bonuses that were between 6% and 20% of their base pay. That went up slightly this year to 5% or less of their pay.
Those getting bonuses equal to half their base pay or more went down only slightly as well from 21% to 20%.
Four years ago, 23% were getting bonuses in that range by their own report. Another 25% were in the 6% to 20% range. And 28% were getting bonuses equal to 5% or less of their base pay.
Most respondents reported getting more basic forms of added compensation.
Nearly two thirds (65%) reported that they got some sort of matching funding from their companies for money they put into their 401(k) retirement plans.
Another 63% said they received four or more weeks of vacation.
But only 34% said they shared in the profits of the firms they worked for. Another 5% said they got deferred compensation of some sort and 7% said they got restricted stock grants.
Similarly to 2011, only 2% said they had some sort of allowance for the use of a private jet.
But 10% said they had no deductible health insurance and another 13% reported receiving 100% health coverage tuition and daycare.
Roughly 28% expected to receive payments from defined contribution plans. And another 3% said they were slated to receive straight forward pension payments.
In a sign of the increasingly mobile and electronic times 45%, though, did report that they could "work at home when needed.''
Responses differed sometimes widely by firm size or age.
For instance, 24% of respondents from firms with 49 or fewer employees reported that they were satisfied with their compensation. Why? Because they owned the company.
By contrast, not a single respondent from a firm with 5,000 or more employees cited that circumstance as a cause for satisfaction.
That ownership sword works two ways though. Twelve percent of managers at firms with 49 or fewer employees said they were not at all satisfied.
None of the respondents at companies with 5,000 or more employees considered themselves that badly dissatisfied.
The shift in retirement expectations could be seen across respondents, by age.
Only 45% of those 55 or older said they were getting a 401(k) match from their companies. These individuals were more likely than the norm to be expecting pension payments.
But 70% or more of those under 55 years of age said they were getting 401(k) matches, instead.
In some respects, smaller firms outsported bigger firms. Roughly 14% of respondents from firms with under $5 billion of assets under management said they got first class travel approval. That compared to about 9% of those at larger firms.
And 39% of those respondents from smaller firms got non deductible health insurance where only 4% of respondents from mid sized firms did and 14% of those at large firms those with $300 billion or more of assets under management did.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, larger firms appeared to give larger bonuses.
Roughly 21% of respondents in large firms said they expected bonuses of 11% to 20% of their base pay.
That compared to 4% of respondents at medium sized firms.
Similarly, 43% of respondents from firms with less than $5 billion in assets said they expected bonuses of 5% or less of base pay.
For medium sized and large sized firms the percentages were 15% and 14%, respectively.
"Benefits and additional incentives should be added,'' said a portfolio manager and independent director at a Baltimore fund firm.
Last year, the average salary of the managers and executives surveyed by Money Management Executive was $151,900. That was up 5.4% from the average of $144,100 the respondents reported for.
The average pay in 2007: $131,100.
For 2011, the executives and managers surveyed indicate they expect their bonuses to work out to 44% of the size of their base salary.
Notably, the most satisfied group were those individuals on the lower end of the ranks of the fund firms surveyed.
More than half (52%) of the managerial and staff respondents said they were either satisfied (49%) or very satisfied (3%).
By contrast, only 46% of senior vice president executive vice president vice president and equivalent titles were satisfied (38%) or very satisfied (8%).
And least satisfied? Those in the C-suite or on a board of directors. Forty four percent were either satisfied (35%) or very satisfied (9%).