March 14, 2013 at 3:18 PM ET
Two of every five Wall Street workers are ready to head elsewhere, and higher pay may not even help.
A new survey shows that 41 percent of financial service workers want out, due to declining bonuses that in turn helped drop salaries 18 percent in 2012.
In fact, hopes have turned from an increase in bonuses, which have long fueled salary structure on the Street, to higher base salaries, according to the survey of 1,431 workers by eFinancialCareers.
"We've hit the pain point on compensation," a narrative accompanying the survey said.
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Just 11 percent of respondents said they were "very satisfied" with their salaries while 37 percent reported being either somewhat or very dissatisfied.
Front-office workers suffered the most, losing 21 percent in earnings compared to 2011. Among firms, sell-side outfits got burned the worst, seeing a 24 percent slide in total earnings during the a period where the stock market performed well.
Wall Street rookies also took it hard, with a 22 percent drop in base salary.
The survey also reported an uptick in respondents who said, when asked what would convince them to stay put, that "nothing would change my mind."
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The upshot of the survey is that it is likely going to get tougher for Wall Street firms to retain talent.
"Talent is the life-blood of financial services. Recruiting and retaining talent is the mantra you hear in the halls of human resources," the survey's authors said. "These findings point to harder times ahead to get - and keep - the talent on the bus."