What do bankers spend their bonuses on?
Filed under: Career
From £5,000 bottles of wine to botox and Ferraris, what do bankers, hedge fund managers and other wheeler dealers spend their bonuses on?
How the rich get richer
City pads or country houses, those with the biggest bonuses are likely to splash out on multi-million pound properties. Prices of luxury homes in central London have climbed 38% since the last slump in March 2009, according to estate agents Knight Frank, although much of that is down to a surge in overseas buyers seeking a safe haven from the sovereign debt crisis.
Knight Frank reckons the success of the Candy Brothers' One Hyde Park luxury apartments means that the super-rich will be paying £10,000 a square foot for London homes by 2016. All but 24 of the 86 apartments at One Hyde Park have been sold for over £1.4 billion, with recent buyers paying a staggering £7,500 a square foot - making it the most expensive residential address in the world.
Lucian Cook at the upmarket estate agents Savills can't see a "significant bonus effect" on the London market this year. He notes that the Centre for Economics and Business Research's predictions suggest City bonuses will fall to a third of pre-recession levels, £4.2 billion versus 6.75 billion last year. Those that are paid are likely to be part-deferred and part in shares, which also dilutes bankers' spending power.
But it's still a hell of a lot of money. And don't forget that bankers' salaries have risen dramatically over the last two years as banks tried to circumvent bonus taxes.
2. Flash cars
The world's bestselling luxury car maker BMW has just reported record sales and profits for the autumn - the latest sign that the super-rich's appetite for flash cars has not been dented by recession fears.
For those that are feeling the pinch, Broadspeed.com, a UK discount car website, is offering Mercedes vehicles at 15-25% off the list price and has also cut the price on some Ferrari and Porsche models in time for the annual bonus season.
3. Yachts and private jets
The London boat show at the beginning of January is conveniently timed to coincide with the bonus season. The 2012 event boasts more than 1,000 powerboats and yachts, dominated by Sunseeker's new 28M, its Predators and the striking Princess 32M yacht, priced at a cool £7 million plus tax.
London art dealers traditionally see interest pick up in January and February when the bulk of City bonuses are paid out. A cabinet with 100 fish pickled in formaldehyde by Damien Hirst recently sold for £1.75 million, a sign that the art market is alive and kicking despite the financial volatility. The rich and famous flocked to London last month for the annual Frieze art bonanza, which featured, for example, a £545,000 speedboat with the artist's signature by Christian Jankowski (a chance to buy a yacht and an artwork in one go).
The contemporary art fair coincided with the big auction houses' autumn sales - but was overshadowed in the end by its Paris rival FIAC. That's where White Cube sold Hirst's 100 Fish. Buying was brisk, even though the fair took place at the height of the euro crisis.
In 2005, a 33-year-old investment banker made headlines when he went on a £41,000 champagne spree at a Soho night club. He ordered more than 70 bottles of bubbly - 49 bottles and six magnums of Cristal champagne and 13 bottles and two magnums of Dom Perignon - and sprayed it around the VIP lounge of the Movida Club in Argyll Street. The champagne only cost £26,000 but he was given a £15,000 cleaning-up bill. His excuse was that he was from Monaco where champagne spraying is de rigueur, apparently.
"It happens all the time in St Tropez and Monaco. There, champagne spraying is not at all unusual, although this is the first time I've heard about it occurring in London," a spokesman for the members club said at the time.
The same year, a hedge fund manager racked up a drinks bill of £36,000 in a five-star London hotel. To celebrate a deal that made him £3 million, he put his black American Express card behind the bar and offered to buy everyone the drink of their choice - all night. Four years earlier, six Barclays Capital bankers had run up a £44,000 bill for alcohol at Gordon Ramsay's Petrus restaurant in London. And one of them didn't even drink.
What do bankers spend their bonuses on?
Before the financial crisis erupted in 2007, debenture seats at Lord's cricket ground were all the rage among the City bonus crowd. Those seats are no longer available, but tennis fans can buy debenture tickets for Wimbledon, with prices ranging from £237.50 to £3,135.
7. Luxury goods
Crisis, what crisis? Luxury goods companies LVMH, Burberry, PPR, Hermes and Hugo Boss have all enjoyed bumper sales in recent weeks. Consultant Bain predicts global spending on personal luxury goods like watches, handbags, jewellery and clothes could grow by 10% this year.
8. Beauty treatments
Botox for bankers? Gone are the days when beauty treatments were seen as unmanly. Now men are just as likely as women (those who can afford it) to spend thousands of pounds on improving their looks - from hair removal and wrinkle fillers to liposuction to get rid of those moobs.
"We live in a culture of facial discrimination," cosmetic surgeon Rajiv Grover has said, "and especially if you work in the City, you are judged on how you look. It is no longer the case that wrinkles and grey hair represent experience."
Vacations are something City financiers can't often afford to take. But once bonuses have been paid out, expect them to jet off to hit the slopes or live it up in the Caribbean. Lavish bashes are likely, like billionaire banker Nat Rothschild's 40th birthday do in Montenegro this summer. Revellers were flown by private jet to Montenegro for a £1 million three-day party.
10. Dog walkers, personal trainers, concierge services
The Quintessential Club prides itself on being a luxury matchmaking company with a lifestyle concierge service included in the annual membership. "We can arrange anything from organising private jets to personal shoppers. There is no request too big or too small for our valued clients," says owner Mya Hassan, a former model.
Their worlds are populated by personal shoppers and trainers, dog walkers, gardeners, chauffeurs and nannies - it's as if bankers and the super-rich live on a different planet.