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Your bonus is a gift of love from your manager. Seriously.

COMMENT: Why you must be seen to spend your bonus when you work for a bank

By now, you may well know what your bonus was for 2018. It may even be in your bank account. - If it is, you need to start spending it. Trust me. If you don't, it will work against you.

When you work for an investment bank, your manager derives vicarious pleasure from the way you spend your bonus. If there is one thing a manager won't forget, it's how much he (or she) paid you. The bonus is a sign of how much your manager loves (yes) and values you. There is pride in the fact that you've been looked after. They want to know what you've been spending their gift on.

If you're a frugal person who just saves the money, it's therefore going to work against you. Your manager is going to think you don't need it. - That you have family money or just don't enjoy money. Your manager is then going to look at all the other people on your team who do love money, and wonder why they didn't get the gift instead.

Of course, there is a way around this. If you're not spending the money because you're saving for a goal (eg. a house), you need to let your manager know. Make sure that he or she can see how happy you are that you're closer to this goal, even if they money is just banked. An MD once told me that managing a big team is like being a psychologist; if you are not talking, others are.

If your bonus is over $150k, I'd suggest that you buy something to demonstrate your appreciation. The ideal is a luxury watch. A Rolex will not depreciate much in price. Your manager will then see that you're someone with a taste for luxuries and might award you more next time around. 

You should also invest in some new clothes for work. You might think you can get away with being scruffy, but you are wrong. Colleagues and clients notice and they talk. You are representing your both team and your manager internally and externally, and you are also representing the firm you work for. 

Whatever you do, make sure you share your bonus spending conversations with your manager and not with your team. - You don't want to create jealousy. Be sure too, that your manager doesn't perceive you to be too flash or reckless with your gift. Blowing it all on a Porsche won't work either.

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AUTHORGeorge Olivier Insider Comment
  • Pi
    1 March 2019

    Even better, invest it and boast of the 6% guaranteed return. In Icelandic bank savings accounts. Oh wait ... this article is a flashback from 10 years ago. Surely?

    The genuine advice I gave to every senior analyst and associate since 2011, when newly flush with cash, was "Work out how long you can live on your savings. Make it to minimum 12 months. Aim to double it once you reach that. If not, be prepared to sell the house/leave London at 6 months notice".

  • As
    1 March 2019

    File this under "A thousand reasons why High Finance and Other White-Collar Professions are run inefficiently while adding minimal value to society".

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