Photo: Flickr / stevendepolo
Every industry has their rituals, and finance is no different. In fact, in finance, rituals tend to be super mysterious.Take Bonus Day, for example. While bankers take their do or die meetings, journalists scramble for bits and pieces of news about who’s happy, who’s sad and why. In the end, though, the full picture is purposely and expertly obscured.
That said: When there is a frank description of Bonus Day, we absolutely have to share it, so here’s the run down on Greg Smith’s description in “Why I Left Goldman Sachs.”
First off, he says everyone gets to work 15 minutes early on Bonus Day, and people are called into their meetings from most senior to most junior. They meet with the partner in charge of their group for 10 minutes and 10 minutes exactly. When they leave the room they must keep a poker face.
Until they can’t anymore, that is… (from the book):
…Bonus Day was an emotionally charged time for almost everyone, and not everyone was able to manage the customary deadpan. You saw a lot of antics: You saw people slamming the door as they walked out. You even saw people so upset that they came out and left the office for the day at 7:00 A.M. It was the one day in the year that such behaviour was acceptable. It was a given that some people were going to be disappointed and some elated…
Bottom line: Smith writes that in Goldman land, bonus = self-worth. And since he’s written this book, Goldman has said he was concerned about his compensation when he worked there.
And indeed he describes a Bonus Day when he felt that he had carried a lot of weight on his team and had not been compensated properly, despite receiving a bonus of almost half a million dollars. He did the poker face, and he stayed for the rest of the day.
The question is, do you throw up your hands and just leave when you’re not happy, or do you wait to fight another Bonus Day?