So what if more than 70% of your bonus is in the form of restricted stock that’s totally inaccessible for the next three years…
If you’re one of these fortunate individuals, here are a few thoughts to warm your heart:
· You won’t be able to spend it all at once. In fact, you won’t be able to spend it for years, by which time house prices may have fallen sufficiently to permit the purchase of a small country estate instead of a bed-sit in Balham.
· You won’t be able to change jobs. Unless you can find someone to buy you out, you won’t be tempted to find a new job in the foreseeable future – think of all the time saved in tinkering with your CV and taking calls from headhunters.
· You might make a lot of money. Most importantly, the price of the stock you’re awarded may actually rise – Merrill Lynch is currently trading at around $56, down from $98 in January, and UBS is trading at $55, down from $81 in June. Today’s old goat may therefore prove tomorrow’s golden goose.
Banking veterans seem to share our opinion on the last point at least. A ‘former Merrill executive’ told the New York Post that Thain’s overhauls “are pretty much certain to be home runs for anyone sticking around for three to five years. The stock is floating around a five-year low and the markets are broken. When they are fixed, the stock can double.”
Do you agree? Are high-stock bonuses any cause for celebration? Or is receipt of them reason to leave banking for a profession that pays some real money?