I've Had My Best Year, But I Don't Care About A Bonus

'I made my firm tens of millions this year, but I don't care about a bonus payout.

I work in commodities trading at one of the firms into which the US government injected billions as it decreed we were simply too big to fail. Personally, probably because of the recent turmoil, I've had an incredible year. My desk has brought in record revenues, and, in normal times, I'd be counting on receiving at year-end what would have been the biggest bonus payout in my career to date. But we are not living in normal times. This year, I'll gladly give up my bonus altogether, as long as it gives us a chance to work through this difficult economic period and come out strong the other side.

Sure, I'd love to bag a big payout (not so much for the money, but just for the satisfaction of knowing how highly I am valued), but I don't see much point pressing for this if the cost is that more of my colleagues (traders and support staff) get laid-off, stockholders continue to dump our shares and regulators take an even greater interest in our business. And, yes, it's easy for me to do this. I have been well looked-after in the past, and can afford to take a pragmatic view now. But many like me aren't. They can't see that to insist on big bonus payouts this year would be suicidal. It would simply result in the end of the gravy train - forever.

This year, guys like me need to step up to the plate and lead by example. We need to stop carping on about all the hard work we have done and all the money we have made for our firms (for once), and focus instead on the bigger picture. The global economy is in the toilet, and ordinary people are starting to suffer big time. And those ordinary people are the same people who, through their tax dollars, have provided the wherewithal to inject the government capital into our firms. It can't then be right for a select few already-rich traders and bankers to walk off this year with big bonuses. It is not morally right - but, more importantly, it is not in our self-interest. We need to realise that, unless we start to get real this year, the government will take action and legislate on the size of our bonus payments in future years. And clearly this will not be good news for anyone who has been used to getting big year-end payouts.

For once, our own interests and those of the wider community are aligned. I am going to give up any claim to a bonus this year. And if my close colleagues and fellow traders at rival firms have any sense, they will do the same. Otherwise, this year's big bonus payout might be the last one they ever receive.


1. 'Back office Johnnies will bear the brunt of the pain if these morons do get big bonuses this year. But then governments will come in and level the playing field'.

2. 'A trader who sees the big picture! Whatever next ?'.

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