Overall, this year's bonuses will probably be significantly down on 2009. Peter Stringfellow may be holding his permed head in despair, but that doesn't mean that you have to too.
If you can get real and begin to consider your so-called colleagues as mere competitors for the diminished bonus pool (as they are surely viewing you) then maybe you can turn this thing around.
Maximising your earnings in investment banking isn't just about doing your job well. It's also about office politics. During my 12 year City career I estimate I earned 30-40% more than many 'colleagues' who were more able, diligent and productive than me.
Here are the top ten tricks that helped me earn far more than was possibly justified by my paltry contribution to the bottom line.
1) Blow your own trumpet
The City is no place for wilting flowers. If you achieve anything remotely impressive make sure everyone knows about it.
2) Steal your colleagues' thunder
Let's face it; any achievement by one of your colleagues is probably a result of your work really. If you can't sell that idea to senior colleagues then you're in the wrong job, my friend
3) Kiss the boss's bottom (figuratively)
Sounds obvious but I saw socially inept dingbats fail to do this year in year out. Subtle sycophancy towards the head honcho who's ultimately deciding your bonus at the right time of year could add 10-20K to your final figure.
4) Take out senior but still only mid-ranking colleagues who could influence your bonus
Many juniors forget that the big cheese is a busy man who'll be taking soundings from people lower down the pecking order when slicing up the bonus cake. These people are particularly susceptible to flattery (see point 3).
5) Get a job offer elsewhere
Six out of my twelve bonuses were guaranteed, which is a particularly pleasing state of affairs during troubled times. I achieved this by either moving, or threatening to.
6) Be 'accidently' overheard talking to headhunters/competitors
Firms will only ever pay you as little as they can get away with. If they think you're sought after and they need your services then they WILL pay up.
7) Express disgust at your previous bonus
If you foolishly indicated that you were satisfied with the paltry sum you got last time, it will have been duly noted and you'll receive something similar this year. Every year, on hearing the bonus amount from your boss, no matter how outrageously generous, immediately do an impression of a bull dog licking urine off a nettle. Practice this in front of a mirror before the all-important meeting.
8) Work like a maniac during 'the critical month'
If you have a big research note to publish or a major marketing schedule to organise, for God's sake make sure it coincides with the month when bonuses are decided (usually November). You could also ask friendly clients to email your boss positive comments.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. A 'friend' once sat at his boss' desk discussing the highly controversial time that his superior had gone into the back room of 'The Crazy Horse' strip club in Vegas with two delightful ladies called Simone and Ebony. He recanted this sordid tale whilst staring the photo of the boss's wonderful family that was prominently positioned on his vast mahogany desk. Unsurprisingly, he was paid generously.
10) Do your job well
If you can make yourself vital to the organisation or genuinely deliver profits it will obviously play a role in your remuneration. However, make sure you discover what the primary influences on your bonus are. For example, as the leader of a team of analysts I knew that it was the Extel / Institutional Investor external rankings that played the biggest role in my pay and hence they became my chief goal (even more so than commission.)
If you've managed to get a decent job in the City then you've probably got a reasonable brain in your head. For God's sake don't just use it to do your job well, use it to maximize your earnings potential! After all, you haven't entered the Square Mile to cure cancer or fulfil your artistic ambitions; you've done so to make as much cash as you possibly can. If you don't get the office politics bit right, your 'colleagues' will!
'Geraint Anderson is the author of Cityboy - Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile.' You can visit his website here and you can buy his book here.