Bonus Watch '15: Upper East Side Wives

"Wife bonuses" are a thing north of East 63rd Street.
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Think your last performance review was brutal? Sick of working your tail off day in and day out only to be told bonuses will be flat year year-on-year and there's not much/anything you can do about it? Or maybe you brought in hundreds of zillions but the drag on the firm's overall P 'n L dragged you down with it? Puzzled as to how you could spend a dozen hours each week at the gym, have an ass one could bounce a quarter off of, successfully supervise the staff on both Park Avenue and the Hamptons, do all that weird sexual sh*t with the balls gags and the whips and the calling him Rachel that he's into and keep it quiet and yet see a 10% dip on this year's bonus because Chip Jr. didn't get into Dalton?

Okay that last one might actually apply less to Wall Street generally* and more to the Upper East Side-dwelling wives of people who work on Wall Street, who apparently get paid in a way not totally dissimilar to your own compensation schemes:

The women I met, mainly at playgrounds, play groups and the nursery schools where I took my sons, were mostly 30-somethings with advanced degrees from prestigious universities and business schools. They were married to rich, powerful men, many of whom ran hedge or private equity funds; they often had three or four children under the age of 10; they lived west of Lexington Avenue, north of 63rd Street and south of 94th Street; and they did not work outside the home....I was thunderstruck when I heard mention of a “bonus” over coffee. Later I overheard someone who didn’t work say she would buy a table at an event once her bonus was set. A woman with a business degree but no job mentioned waiting for her “year-end” to shop for clothing. Further probing revealed that the annual wife bonus was not an uncommon practice in this tribe.

A wife bonus, I was told, might be hammered out in a pre-nup or post-nup, and distributed on the basis of not only how well her husband’s fund had done but her own performance — how well she managed the home budget, whether the kids got into a “good” school — the same way their husbands were rewarded at investment banks. In turn these bonuses were a ticket to a modicum of financial independence and participation in a social sphere where you don’t just go to lunch, you buy a $10,000 table at the benefit luncheon a friend is hosting. Women who didn’t get them joked about possible sexual performance metrics. Women who received them usually retreated, demurring when pressed to discuss it further, proof to an anthropologist that a topic is taboo, culturally loaded and dense with meaning.

Think about how hard these women have to work for their money the next time you're haggling with your boss over an extra mill.

Poor Little Rich Women [NYT]

*Or not, depending on who you work for.

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