City bonuses will return to the "real world" this year with payouts halving to £2.3bn, their lowest level since 1998, a new report claims today.
The multimillion-pound packages that were commonplace "are now the exception, not the rule" following five years of recession and austerity, it says.
The forecasting group CEBR, which produces the "official" estimates of bonuses, says the expected total for the 2012/13 bonus "season" compares with £4.4bn previously and £11.7bn in the last of the golden years in 2007/08.
The CEBR said the demise of the bonus culture was due to a combination of subdued markets and more-forceful shareholders demanding lower rewards for executives.
There has also been a huge shift in public attitudes towards "irresponsible" rewards for bankers. Douglas McWilliams,the CEBR's chief executive, said: "City remuneration levels arecoming back into the real world. Employees are being told 'your job is your bonus, so don't expect a large sum in addition'.
"More active shareholders are pressing management to remunerate in line with the economic situation. And our estimates for City activity, reflected in the sharp fall in the number of City jobs, means that pay has to fall to reflect the underlying economic reality."
However, Mr McWilliams also points out that lower bonuses means less revenue for theTreasury at a time when it needsit most.
As well as a reduced headline total, there has also been a shift away from instant cash payments to share-based ones that canonly be accessed after three to five years.