Wall Street Grappling With How To Give Out Zero Dollar Bonuses Without Upsetting Recipients

As you may have seen, this morning the Times a serious issue this morning involving financial services employees who will be receiving nada come bonus time this year. How serious? Codename serious. “They’ve come to be called the Zeros,” the gray lady quoted someone as saying (possibly the same person who snorted to himself and then said “stop, no, you’re so bad– so bad you’re good” after coming up with the nickname). “And they…are facing a once-unthinkable prospect: an annual bonus of … nothing,” he/she continues. One executive- possibly James Gorman– can’t even think about it.

Even though employees will receive roughly the same amount of money, the psychological blow of not getting a bonus is substantial, especially in a Wall Street culture that has long equated success and prestige with bonus size. So there are sure to be plenty of long faces on employees across the financial sector who have come to expect a bonus on top of their base pay…One executive, whose firm prohibited discussing the topic with the news media, said the bump in base salaries had confused people, even though their overall compensation was the same. “People expect a big bonus,” this person said. “It is as if they don’t even see their base doubled last year.”

What can be done? Not much.

Dealing with the Zeros can be complicated. “It’s a real headache,” said another senior banker, who asked not to be identified because the topic is so volatile at his company. There has been so much grousing that in some cases,” he said, “we’ll throw $20,000 or $25,000 at each of the Zeros so they’re not discouraged. No matter what we pay people, it is never enough and they always find something to complain about,” this banker said.

I think the issue here is that these people just want to feel appreciated, a sensation they’re accustomed to feeling come bonus season. So if you can’t do it in unmarked hundos, why not make the presentation of bupkus a little more palatable by adding some fanfare? For instance, you could fill out a check for zero dollars and put it in a nice gift bag with tissue paper and whatnot. Or you’re charged with dispensing the bad news you could do so with your dick in a bow-topped box. Or you could issue a bonus people would be content with via posted-dated check ($1,000,000 payable 12/20/2012). All of these measures would like to go far in turning those frowns upside down.

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27 Responses to “Wall Street Grappling With How To Give Out Zero Dollar Bonuses Without Upsetting Recipients”

  1. Lsjd says:

    sorry sad pandas

  2. Nullo says:

    i prefer the term “nullos”.

  3. Clark G. Zero says:

    Look! A gift certificate for the Jelly Of The Month Club!

  4. Jack says:

    But what happens if the Zeros decide to fight back? Surely that will be a date that will live in infamy.

  5. HotCarl says:

    With asstons of lube?

  6. Guest says:

    better than no job, like me, and i don’t want to hear all the negative BS from this comment

  7. Guest says:

    This is absolute bullsh!t. We deserve bonuses. We negotiated salaries (low) and bonuses (make up the difference) so that the company can show lower cost of wages. In good times, we earn our keep. In bad times, we have to show our value.

    Gorman. Bleh!

    • Guest says:

      Sorry Bud, you negotiated a bad deal and it’s biting you on the ass.

    • HFGuy says:

      shows the level of your expertise in finding value investments.. no wonder plebs like you are the reason banks are screwed up.

    • Guest says:

      why do you care if you’re getting the same amount in the end….salaries have come up (high) because bonuses now suck (low)…i’d rather get a higher salary personally.

    • Anonymous says:

      seriously? i’d trust calpers to deliver me a fully-funded pension in 20 years before i’d trust an MD at a publicly traded bank to pay me something on good faith.

    • Rho2Gamma says:

      You’re right. They should be proud to be paid in their employer’s stock. Those employees of Enron and worldcom didn’t bitch and moan.

  8. God says:

    What is funny and disgraceful is that the bankers are unwilling to take bonus in shares of the firm they work in… only in the fin industry do employees seem to have no faith in the very firms they work in.. while blue chip employees have no issues with this and infact look forward to discounted options as bonus etc ( ask a IBM/ GE employee) .. and the reason is the amount of crap the banks have grown into and need to trimmed off their useless parts to bring them back to the core they started as.

    Rant complete.

    • BSerious4Once says:

      Bankers (and I’m not one) are obviously smart enough not to put all their eggs in one basket.

    • tonguesincheek says:

      easy, Rod. Over here in Silicon Valley our comp is 25% salary and 75% shares and options that vest over 12-48 months. We’re not exactly thrilled with that bullshit either.

  9. buckettrader says:

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  10. buckettrader says:

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  11. buckettrader says:

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  12. buckettrader says:

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  13. buckettrader says:

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  14. buckettrader says:

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  15. buckettrader says:

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids