City bankers on spending spree as pay soars

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The Independent Online

From the consulting rooms of Harley Street to the restaurants of Mayfair, the extravagantly rewarded bankers of the City have embarked on a spending spree on property and luxury goods.

The Office of National Statistics says pay for men in the Square Mile has soared by 21 per cent in a year, pushing the annual salary past £100,000. Female City workers take home £51,000 a year, compared with the national male average wage of £31,000.

Dealers, traders and bankers in the City and Canary Wharf have also reaped total bonuses of £19bn this year, up 16 per cent. Jewellers, restaurateurs, estate agents and even cosmetic surgeons in London have all noticed an upsurge in business from the employees of the financial services industry.

Gordon Ramsay's nine restaurants in the capital have been among the winners from the spending spree, receiving more male twenty- and thirty-something diners happy to spend £200 on a meal for two after a hard day's trading.

Bjorn van der Horst, the head chef at La Noisette, Ramsay's French restaurant in Knightsbridge, said: "You can tell they have been working hard during the day and it's time to relax and indulge. They are perhaps a little less careful with their money than other generations."

He said that many financiers lived in the Harrods area and commuted to their offices in the City or Docklands. They were often adventurous, trying the £65-a-head, seven-course blind-tasting menu. Wine comes on top.

Amid worries about younger colleagues taking their place in the fast-moving world of the dealing rooms, cosmetic surgeons have picked up more business. Mel Braham, chairman of the Harley Medical Group, which has 11 clinics, said: "The male City clients tend to come in for eye-bag removal, liposuction around the handlebars or excess breast fat, nose jobs, laser hair removal on backs and chests and facial rejuvenation treatment to make them look younger. The women tend to go for breast augmentation and facelifts. There is no doubt these bonuses are having an effect. These people do not feel constrained in spending their pounds."

Sales have been rising all year at T M Lewin, the Jermyn Street shirtmaker, which has 18 branches in the City. "When things are buoyant, we tend to sell bolder shirts - stripes, the more colourful combinations - and when things are quiet it's back to white and blue shirts," the company's creative director, John Francomb, said.

Prices of vintage Rolex watches have risen by 30 per cent in the past year, according to the London Watch Company, which counts City gents among its customers who are willing to pay between £2,000 and £100,000 for an old watch.

One of the most dramatic and visible impacts of the boom has been on house prices. Liam Bailey, head of residential research for Knight Frank, said prices in central London were 23 per cent higher than a year ago, and 4,000 million-pound homes had been sold. Foreign buyers are moving into prime areas and UK buyers are being priced out.

How the money rolls in

* The 224,000 workers in the City of London earn on average £81,110, up 13 per cent in a year.

* Men earn the most, £104,622 on average, up 21 per cent.

* Women earn £51,008 on average, up 2 per cent.

* Dealers, traders and bankers in the City and Canary Wharf earned bonuses of £19bn this year, up 16 per cent.

* The average bonus is £25,085, up 26 per cent.

* Central London property is up 23 per cent in a year.

* London's economy is now worth at least £165bn a year.