What bankers wish for when they’re not thinking about bonuses

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Imagine a world where investment banking professionals have to exist on base salary alone and large bonuses are a thing of the past. The public would no doubt rejoice, but employers would have to think of other ways to keep their staff happy.

As part of the eFinancialCareers bonus expectations survey in the U.S., we asked an open ended question of what extra benefits bankers would expect if their variable compensation was scaled back. In some ways the answers are entirely predictable, with better health insurance, more time off and pension arrangements dominating the responses.

However, flexible working was also cited as a key benefit, as was the potential for shorter hours and a better work-life balance. Investment banking is, of course, notorious for requiring its employees to work all hours, remain on call even on holiday and check in even when they’re not in the office most evenings. If the carrot of a big bonus is no longer there at the end, investment bankers clearly want more time to themselves and the chance to switch off on vacation.

More interestingly, two people requested the right to bring their dog into work, and seven said they would expect their colleagues to be nicer if a big bonus wasn’t a prospect. One individual even suggested that if they didn’t receive a large bonus then they’d need their employer to provide a subsidy for ladies of the night.

The parking space – supposedly the new status symbol among senior bankers – didn’t feature heavily as a potential perk, but travel expenses, free food at work and gym membership were all cited. Predictably, if variable comp was likely to go down, a number of people said they’d expect either a bigger salary or stock options from their employer.


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