Trading Places

Inside views on the jobs market

The tricky business of bonuses

November 11, 2008

In these dismal economic times, nothing comes in handy quite like a 5-step program to reclaiming your bonus. Of course, delicacy is key.  With job cuts spreading like wild fire and the Treasury’s seemingly never-ending bailout, everyday taxpayers aren’t going to be rooting for you and your six-figure paycheque.

But as Bloomberg‘s Michael Lewis cheekily points out, all is not lost. You just need to rethink your strategy:

“If you are one of those people currently sitting inside a big Wall Street firm praying for some kind of bonus it may already have dawned on you that you need to rethink your approach. It’s no longer any use to hint darkly that they had better fork over serious sticks or you’ll bolt for Morgan Stanley. There’s no point even in thinking up clever ways to make profits for your firm: who cares how much money you bring into Goldman Sachs if the U.S. Congress doesn’t allow Goldman Sachs to pay bonuses? ”

While Lewis pokes fun at the contentious topic, bonuses have sparked some serious debate in recent weeks, even prompting some banks to consider giving their bonus structure an overhaul. But they may want to tread carefully.  Bankers could demand pro rata bonuses from their firms after they’ve been laid off, even forcing the case into litigation (though such cases usually favor the employer, law experts say.)

Granted, not everyone is scrambling to scoop up their slice of the payout pie. UBS chief Peter Wuffli reportedly turned down bonuses worth $10 million in a sign of “solidarity with the leadership” of the crisis-stricken bank.

How will your bonus be affected this year? Share your thoughts below.


Bogus Bonuses for failure !

Can someone explain how one can get a bonus for failure.

A bonus for misconduct, mismanagement, fraude??

Hmmm…, strange but apparently true

The bigger the failure the bigger the bonus/bailout.

Posted by John Boston USA | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see