Last year's mutual fund rout took its toll on bank brokers, whose pay fell 17% from 1993, a new study finds.
Bank investment products representatives - who are compensated mostly by commissions on product sales - got an average of $67,000 last year.
That was a far cry from the $80,500 they were paid on average during the bull market of 1993, according to the report by Kenneth Kehrer Associates, Princeton, N.J.
Mr. Kehrer compiled the compensation figures by checking with brokerage executives at large and small banks.
Even with the setback, brokers continued to take home more than many bank employees, including some senior executives, industry observers said.
But bank representatives' paychecks still lag those of their counterparts at nonbank brokerage houses.
Nonbank brokers got an average of $117,000 last year, compared with $129,000 in 1993, according to figures released last week by the Securities Industry Association, New York.
The compensation chasm between bank brokers and their nonbank counterparts will likely persist, bankers said.
Representatives at traditional brokerage houses tend to do more business because they've been around longer and have built a large base of customers, said R. Gregory Knopf, vice president of investment products at Union Bank, Los Angeles.
And while banks focus on mutual funds and annuities, nonbank brokerages offer more individual stocks and bonds, Mr. Knopf said.
Banks are more interested in putting their customers into products for the long term, said Keith Pipes, senior vice president at Great Western Investment Management, Chatsworth, Calif. "There is not nearly as much repeat business.
"Your (bank) broker isn't going to call you with a 'hot tip,' " Mr. Pipes said. "He'd update you on how your investment is performing and ask if your long-term objectives are the same."
Also, bank brokers are much less likely to push customers to buy more investment products than they need, Mr. Pipes said.
Despite banks' softer sell, a number of investment executives said this year is shaping up quite well, with help from an unexpectedly robust stock market.
Union Bank, for instance, planned on selling $300 million worth of mutual fund shares this year. The bank, a subsidiary of the Bank of Tokyo, surprised itself pleasantly by selling that much in the first six months, Mr. Knopf said.
The markets' momentum seems likely to persist, industry watchers indicated.
"Rates should head south, so that should help Wall Street," said Jeffrey M. Schaefer, senior vice president for research at the Securities Industry Association.
Although data aren't in yet, retail brokerage firms, like those operated by banks, are likely to have had a "banner" first half, Mr. Schaefer said.
He based his assessment on high market volume and record stock prices.
The activity, which is largely fueled by smaller trades, shows that investors recognize "Wall Street is not only for the rich or the elite," Mr. Schaefer said.