Bonus season

November 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

Some of you have asked why I’ve been unusually silent these past few weeks. Some of you wonder what I am doing with my time? Rather than tell you, let me describe to you the scene of last week (I forget which day).

0800 hours: Paul arrives at office. Banal talk of golf etc. Announces conference call schedule 1400 hours with Dean Dwyer, head of inv banking, NYC.

1400 hours: Eight traders sit around desks looking fidgety, nervous, tense. You can cut the atmosphere with a knife. Even a cake knife would do it, it’s that bloody tense.

1411 hours: Dwyer on line. I reproduce his talk, almost verbatim:

“Gentlemen,” he begins. “We’ve had a tough year, but it would be wrong of me if I wasn’t to praise the work you have done. There has been competition and other houses have been making their own waves. We have beaten them off so far. But now the pressure is on gentlemen. We all know that. It’s crr-unch time. But that’s not the reason you are here today. I would like to give you a clue as to why you have been gathered here.”

STARTS TO SING.

“Tis the season to be jolly tra-la-la-la-la, la-la-la la. Yes forget the pressures, you’ve all excelled yourselves this year. And now is your downtime. It’s that season we all love. Bonustime!

This year’s bonuses will be chunky. The U.S.sales and trading division alone has contributed $X billion in revenues, the best in our history. The U.S. Structuring division has propelled us into the stratosphere.U.S.equities is looking solid again. Thanks to the sterling work done by Simon Gallaghan and his team of boys here, things are looking better than ever. We may not have issued as much as them but there’s a room full of traders, structurers and sales guys pissing its pants in the street down from us. They know that they’ve been taken again.

Now, of course, the situation in Europe’s not been so kind. You all know that this is one mother-of-all bear markets. Shrinking fees, lower margins, higher volatility have combined in a perfect storm. And so comrades…the truth is that the European bonus pool will be small this year. Smaller than it’s ever been.”

Mutters, gasps and guffaws all around.

“So, having talked it over with Simon, I’ve devised a new way to compensate you. Individual bonuses will be based solely on individual performance this year. Best traders will still be adequately remunerated. The lower performers will see their bonuses shrink. I’m sorry to tell you this but……some may get nothing at all.

I think it’s about time that someone got on the phone to Merkel and told him to pull his fucking finger out of his ass!! Anyway that’s all. So try and get your p&l’s up. Get your face out there. Remember—be a shark or you’re a scavenger. Bye and happy holidays.”

Yep you heard what the man said. Performance based bonuses! It’s about as bad as it’s ever been.

So I’ve got about two and a half weeks to somehow get my p&l in order. Or else there’s no bonus for me. You can all now see that if I’m a bit quiet its because I’m F***G WORKING!

(Sorry about the bad language, just a little stressed out.)

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