City bankers pour out pay woes on the Net

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The Independent Online
DISGRUNTLED City bankers have found a new way to complain about the size of their pay cheques. Rather than confide in a colleague or drown their sorrows with a glass of champagne or two, City folk can now open their hearts to the Internet.

Two entrepreneurs from north London have set up a website aimed specifically at London's highly paid banking community. The major draw of the site is a bulletin board where bankers can anonymously post their views about life, the universe, and, most important of all, their bonuses. The site provides a fascinating insight into the surreal world of investment banking.

Take yesterday's top item, "Warburg's insulting bonuses". This detailed City fury at the "derisory" level of bonus paid by SBC Warburg, a leading investment bank.

The bank told staff this week that some payouts would be lower than normal after last year's turmoil in South-East Asia. Many staff will receive bonuses of "only" a couple of thousand of pounds, which prompted bankers to flood the website with complaints.

"There was initially disbelief, followed by anger, and, finally a feeling of having been shabbily treated," say contributors to the website. "Until yesterday I was having sleepless nights trying to decide whether I would buy a BMW Z3 or a Porsche Boxter with my bonus. Now I'm off out to buy a mountain bike," complained one Warburg employee.

"Might as well work at McDonald's," added another.

Yet another banker advocated direct action: "Banks are trying to break the high-paying culture in the industry and this is just the start. The only way to counter it is to show Warburgs how destructive it is by large numbers of us leaving as soon as the bonuses are paid."

The site is not only used by bankers peeved by the size of their pay cheques. It has also provided comfort to employees at UBS, a top City bank, which recently announced that it was going to make hundreds, if not thousands, of staff redundant following a merger with SBC Warburg.

The bulletin board is plastered with comments from UBS staff who are concerned about their future, concerned about their pay, or just plain fed up.

"If I go and look for a new job now, my bonus will be effectively cancelled," complained one member of staff. "I think those of us coming from the old UBS are going to be less well-paid than our counterparts at Warburgs," moaned another.