'I don't know where we are going to find the money to go to Barbados this Christmas. And we always go to Barbados', a slender thirtysomething female banker told Here Is The City. 'It's so distressing', she continued, 'What will I tell the children ? Do you really expect them to believe in Santa Claus now!',
Times are tough in the financial markets - even though business is good; in fact, for many, it's never been better. 'My firm is making huge profits,' the banker continued, 'But I won't see much of that - at least not for a long time'. And that's a common refrain among the banking community these days, as many industry professionals face up to the fact that most of their bonuses will be paid in deferred equity from hereon out.
'Of course I'm prepared to make sacrifices', says our banker, 'I've already made big compromises - in fact, I recently had to fire the dog walker. It was such a shame. I felt terrible about that - the dogs just hate being couped up in the house all the time now'.
Times are so bad for our banker, that she has been forced to take a second job to make ends meet. 'A lot of us at the firm are having to do this', she says, 'We got bailed out last year, so there are really strict limits on compensation. And then taxes are going up too. Many of us just can't survive. Remember, we have to pay our mortgages back - unlike some, we can't just run away!'. But there is one silver lining. 'Working for the government does have some benefits', she continued.
'No one works very hard anymore (it's just not the done thing). In the old days, I was working terribly long hours, and when I got home all I wanted to do was sleep. But now, I leave early most afternoons, and that gave me the opportunity to get a part-time job. It's only a few hours work each day, but I was lucky enough to get a job with a client, and it's cash-in-hand. So no questions asked, if you know what I mean!'.
'I was laid-off, and it took me almost a year to get back in', another banker tells us. 'I spent 6 months working tables at a restaurant. Things had got that bad. But I was delighted when I finally got back into investment banking - at least at first'. But his happiness didn't last long. 'Then I realised that, what with all this deferred equity lark, I'd actually be worse off in cash terms (I used to make a lot in tips, you know)', he continued. 'I even tried to get my old job in the restaurant back, but some guy from Compliance got in there before me, so I'm stuck here for the time being. It's going to be a struggle to survive'.
So, as we head into the season of goodwill, please spare a thought for some of our hard-up bankers. Life has changed for many, and several have ended up requiring counselling in order to come to terms with their new reality. But, despite their adversity, these fine people don't appear to be bitter. 'It's no-one's fault', says our (hopefully) still Barbados-bound banker, 'the trailer-trash couldn't help over-extending themselves. They didn't know any better. We forgive them'.