The Independent reports that leading Wall Street investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs look poised to hand out a total of $32 billion between them, allocating bonuses depending on the profitability of individual divisions.
"Banks are operating with bulls-eyes on their chests when it comes to issues of pay," said David Wise of consultancy firm Hay Group. "What used to be more or less guaranteed is no longer a ticket to a seven-figure pay programme."
North Carolina-based Bank of America - which also owns Merrill Lynch - is expected to announce its performance-related payouts for 2011 when it publishes its annual results later in the week.
Last week, British government minister Michael Gove accused banks of "living in a parallel universe" over pay during an appearance on the BBC's Question Time.
By Claire Archer