Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Pity Party Time


Break out the violins for Wall Street.
While Wall Street investment banks and other financial firms make headlines for the millions paid out to certain executives, more modest bonuses go to workers from human resources representatives to secretaries as well as employees who actually made money for their companies last year.
There's an implied sneer in that, at "workers from human resources representatives to secretaries" as people who don't make money for their companies. But let's turn it around... Let's say, "Even in the financial industry it's okay to give bonuses to the employees who made money for their companies last year... but do we need more than one hand to count them?"
Jason Weisberg, vice president of the Wall Street brokerage Seaport Securities, said bank employees count on performance bonuses like salesmen count on commissions.

"What are you supposed to pay them?" Weisberg asked. "Or are you not supposed to pay them?
Salesmen count on commissions from their sales. If they don't make sales, believe it or not, they don't get commissions. Similarly, if we're going to refer to "performance bonuses", they perhaps should be somehow related to... performance?
And if you don't pay them, how do you expect that employee to stay employed at that company?"
Well, if they're not performing... do you really care? And with financial industry employer's shedding employees like leaves, odds are that only those employees who actually performed will be marketable - and their performance bonuses are defensible.
"The reality is good people will always be able to get a job someplace else if they are unhappy," Hall said. "So do you want to own stock in a company that is filled with people who can't get a job anywhere else?"
You mean, the "good people" who lost hundreds of billions of dollars, and caused the value of my stock to plummet to the point that the only reason it has any value is... not even the bailout money it has already received, as that hasn't fixed things, but the expectation that hundreds of billions in additional taxpayer dollars are on the way? No, I don't want stock in that company, but it's not because I'm concerned that the "good people" might leave.... Stock in the company that's doing well enough to poach them, on the other hand....

This is funny - a Wall Street veteran states the obvious:
"You could absolutely make an argument that we shouldn't be getting any bonuses this year," said the worker, who also requested anonymity because of his company's restrictions on talking to the media.

"If you are going to have a pay-for-performance system, you have to take the lows with the highs," he said. "This just happened to be a really low year."
It's only the guy who speaks out against bonuses, it seems, who "can't" use his name.

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