The number of employees earning more than €1m or £1m at Europe's biggest banks fell sharply last year, another sign of the clout they have lost to US rivals since the financial crisis. 

Early indications from four big European institutions show that the number of "material risk-takers" (MRTs) on their books who earned more than the 1 million threshold last year was 32% lower in 2016 than in 2015.

Even though the interest rate, economic and trading environment appears to be improving for banks, the trend for lower banker pay seems unlikely to reverse any time soon in Europe.

Banks are keeping a tight grip on costs and have to adhere to a cap which limits bonuses to two times fixed salaries. 

Contrasting with that, Wall Street bonuses could climb as much as 15% this year, the first meaningful uptick since 2009, compensation firm Johnson Associates estimates. 

The 2016 MRT figures for Europe are skewed by Deutsche Bank, where a massive restructuring has seen 9,000 job cuts announced and the freezing of bonuses for many staff. 

Deutsche Bank, Europe's largest investment bank, also said this year that it would stop benchmarking its compensation packages against Wall Street firms Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley because they are too "investment banking-centric". 

The post-crisis attrition that has seen tens of thousands of jobs slashed across the industry has further diminished employees' bargaining power.  

The number of front office staff, including trading and investment banking employees, at the world's 12 biggest US and European banks fell 4% last year to 53,200. That is down 20% from five years earlier. 

Morale among bankers is low, particularly at European firms, so they no longer go that extra mile that might help secure a big bonus, like working weekends.

There are also fewer avenues for promotion than there used to be, all of which keeps a lid on pay rises.

According to a Reuters analysis, there were 1,183 million-plus earning MRTs at four European banks - HSBC, Deutsche Bank Standard Chartered and Barclays - last year, down from 1,740 in 2015. 

Those figures comprise the MRTs whose overall compensation packages including fixed pay and bonuses were at least €1m or £1m. 

Deutsche's bonus pool plunged nearly 80% to €500m. But that masked the €1.1 billion in special 'retention packages' it paid out to more than 5,500 staff. 

The biggest single earner at Europe's biggest bank HSBC, an unnamed senior manager, pulled in €10-11m. 

The biggest single earner in 2015 at the bank, also an unnamed senior manager, pulled in €9-10m. 

The number of MRTs at HSBC raking in between €1-2m fell 21% to 266. 

The minimum threshold for MRTs - or staff whose activities have a material impact on an institution's risk profile - is €500,000.

In 2015, the number of high earners in banking across the European Union hit 5,142, up from 3,865 in 2014, with 80% of those who were paid above €1m based in London, data compiled by the European Banking Authority (EBA) showed. 

EBA banker pay figures for 2016 are due in early 2018 and will likely reflect a slump in sterling in the immediate aftermath of Britain's vote to quit the EU last June.