The London Paper – 29 Oct 2007
It’s squeaky bum time in the City. It seems like only yesterday that colleagues and I were standing around in posh bars shouting loudly at each other about how massive our boners … sorry I mean bonuses … were going to be. However, following the credit squeeze and last week’s rumours of major job cuts from the likes of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, not being sacked may be the only bonus we receive. If I listen carefully, I think I can hear the cries of anguish as Londoners lament our terrible plight … or maybe that’s laughter, I can’t be sure.
Greed and fear run the City and are now engaged in a violent battle in my head. For the first time ever it is almost impossible to predict what fate awaits me when I walk into my boss’ office to receive my bonus. Even worse, this column is making my paranoia work overtime. There is a chance that I’ll receive a similar treatment to Joe Pesci’s character in Goodfellas who goes into a room thinking he’s going to be ‘made’ into a mafia don but actually ends up with a bullet in the head. I’m not suggesting my boss is going to execute me because of my attempts to publicly expose the darker side of the City but he may be waiting until bonus time to fire my sorry ass so as to maximize my contribution for the cheapest price.
Anyway, everyone’s looking slightly nervous on the trading floor and Cityboys are holding off ordering that new Porsche. A few more bank profit warnings and job cuts will really put the cat amongst the pigeons and I now notice fellow analysts are studying US banks’ third quarter results announcements more than their own sectors.
The general consensus is that you can’t do much at these times but I’ve decided not to just sit around like a lemon awaiting my fate. Although I can’t play the old trick of threatening to leave the bank so as to get a guaranteed bonus because I’ve done it once too often (though some of my colleagues are clearly debating this action) I’m going to try some good old-fashioned scheming. I’ll take the boss out for a bottle of champers and bang on about the tremendous year I’ve had whilst subtly reminding him of my colleagues’ bad recommendations or excessive sick leave. I do this because everyone else who has the morals of a hyena (e.g. most Cityboys) will be doing similar things. This may sound Machiavellian … and that’s because it is.
‘I am easily satisfied with the very best’ said Winston Churchill and this is the attitude I hope to project when I have my bonus discussion. This time, the boss may laugh in my face and hand me my P45 or he may give me several hundred thousand pounds. One outcome will result in me being poorer but sane whilst the other will bring untold joy to the girls at Stringfellows and probably some psychotherapist – at the moment the jury’s still out over which is preferable.