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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Comments (27)

  1. Posted by Lsjd | December 20, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    sorry sad pandas

  2. Posted by Nullo | December 20, 2010 at 10:10 PM

    i prefer the term “nullos”.

  3. Posted by Clark G. Zero | December 20, 2010 at 10:26 PM

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

  4. Posted by Jack | December 20, 2010 at 10:53 PM

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

  5. Posted by Gen. Yamamoto | December 20, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    I see what you did there.

    -Gen. Yamamoto

  6. Posted by Guest | December 20, 2010 at 11:22 PM

    don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

  7. Posted by HotCarl | December 20, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    With asstons of lube?

  8. Posted by Guest | December 21, 2010 at 12:17 AM

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

  9. Posted by Guest | December 21, 2010 at 4:37 AM

    It’s Adm. Yaramoto, but good effort.

  10. Posted by Guest | December 21, 2010 at 5:00 AM

    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!

  11. Posted by Guest | December 21, 2010 at 1:45 PM

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

  12. Posted by God | December 21, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    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.

  13. Posted by HFGuy | December 21, 2010 at 2:09 PM

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

  14. Posted by Guest | December 21, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    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.

  15. Posted by Anonymous | December 21, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    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.

  16. Posted by BSerious4Once | December 21, 2010 at 2:40 PM

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

  17. Posted by Guest | December 21, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Remember Enron? Everyone lost their stocks… eggs + one basket diversification (obs.)

  18. Posted by buckettrader | December 21, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  19. Posted by buckettrader | December 21, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  20. Posted by buckettrader | December 21, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  21. Posted by buckettrader | December 21, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  22. Posted by buckettrader | December 21, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  23. Posted by buckettrader | December 21, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  24. Posted by buckettrader | December 21, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    So for once “one dollar, Bob” overbids

  25. Posted by Rho2Gamma | December 21, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    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.

  26. Posted by Houston NG Trader | December 21, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    Ahhhh…Enron…remember when Lay threatened the nation of India? Oh..those were the days…..

  27. Posted by tonguesincheek | December 23, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    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.