Bonus Boost: Bankers get bump, but will they spread the wealth?
If Wall Street bankers are doing “God’s work,” as Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein recently proclaimed, then they certainly haven’t taken a vow of poverty.
In fact, securities industry hotshots are about to be showered with a combination of cash and stock options as bonus season approaches.
In all, the yearly bump for bankers is expected to climb 40 percent from last year, to about $26 billion, according to a report from Johnson Associates, a Wall Street pay consultancy firm.
While the mega-paydays have ignited a populist backlash nationwide, many New Yorkers don’t begrudge the bankers their bonuses.
“The hope is that Wall Street is strong and profitable and people continue to make good livings,” said Robert Whalen, a spokesman for the state comptroller’s office. “These guys spend. They put a lot of money into the economy. It’s something that we certainly have been mindful of when the federal government is looking at compensation controls.”
Mark Redlefsen, who works in sales and marketing in the Financial District, is not among the Wall Street class expecting bonuses, but he said he understands why bankers are paid so well, “because in order to push that much cash through the economy you have to be ... motivated.”
The comptroller’s office keeps tabs on Wall Street income, because it accounts for nearly a quarter of all taxable wages in the city, Whalen said. It also spurs the big spenders to buy/rent luxury digs, shop at high-end stores and frequent pricey restaurants, bars and clubs.
Ronan Henaff, the general manager of Setai, a luxury spa and club that recently opened near the New York Stock Exchange, said: “We don’t depend on the bonuses of those financial firms, but of course, if those firms get good bonuses it will impact our business in a very good way.”
Other industries in the city also look forward to bonuses. For instance, real estate broker David Robles is competing for a year-end boost, and he doesn’t see anything wrong with the extra incentive.
“If it’s earned, it’s earned,” said Robles, 25, a Financial District resident. The extra couple thousand dollars he hopes for would be minuscule compared with Wall Street bonuses, but it would pay for Christmas gifts, he said.
Emily Ngo contributed to this story.