The good times are back. The money is rolling in. While the rest of us face humiliating conversations with the bank manager after the festive excesses, a glorious bonanza is about to get under way for Britain's financial whizzkids.
Amid soaring sales of Ferraris, penthouse apartments and designer jewellery, more than 3,000 top City performers are about to receive windfalls available to most of us only if we were to win the lottery.
Brewin Dolphin Wealth Management predicts the top dealers will receive more than £1m each, with the highest bonuses topping £10m. Lesser, but still substantial, payments will go to many of the other 350,000 City workers.
With billions of pounds being divvied up by the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers, bankers and fund managers all over Kensington, Chelsea and Notting Hill are waiting by their letterboxes. Many are so certain of windfalls that a rush is already reported on Porsches, riverside luxury pads and even cosmetic surgery.
Lovely for them, but a bit galling for the majority of Brits, particularly when a generally lacklustre economy has meant cuts to most staff bonuses and in many cases no bonus at all. Labour MP John McDonnell struck a chord with ordinary mortals last week when he complained of "obscene profiteering" and said Gordon Brown ought to act.
But who are the City's biggest bonus winners shimmying into a swanky New Year while the rest of us face a January of chilly austerity?
Michael Spencer, 50, British chief executive of Intercapital (Icap), the world's biggest money broker, is among the most flamboyant of McDonnell's "profiteers". A generous host, he hit the gossip columns last year after he spent £1m luring Robbie Williams to his St Tropez mansion to sing in front of 300 guests at his lavish 50th birthday party. Mr Spencer is tipped to pick up a bonus of £5m after a very good year for Icap.
The man who earned £10m last year has an estimated personal wealth of around £372m. His company operates from 26 offices across the globe and employs 2,900 staff to handle daily transactions of $600bn. He lives with his wife, Lorraine, and three children in Holland Park, west London, and is chauffeured around in a grey Mercedes. He is acollector of modern art with a penchant for Picasso and Jack Vettriano; his wine cellar, too, is the stuff of legend.
All this started modestly. Mr Spencer first got a taste for trading when he made £300 profit dealing in GKN shares while he was still at Oxford studying physics. He now controls 22 per cent of mighty Icap.
"I'm the sad person you see reading the FT on the beach," he says. But when the beach is in some exotic exclusive location, how tragic can that be?
When it comes to personal wealth Crispin Odey, 46 - hedge fund manager, founder of Odey Asset Management and recipient of a predicted £8.8m bonus - can almost give Michael Spencer a run for his money.
Mr Odey's personal wealth is "cautiously" put by the Sunday Times rich list at £160m. He is married to the highly successful Nichola Pease, 44, chief executive of JO Hambro Capital Management. Combined 2004 earnings for the "Posh and Becks of the Square Mile" were £10m.
Both were born into privilege. Mr Odey, previously married to Rupert Murdoch's eldest daughter, Prudence, went from Harrow to Christ Church, Oxford at only 16. Ms Pease's family was one of the original partners in Barclays Bank. The City has kept the couple in the style to which they were accustomed. They live in a four-storey riverside townhouse in Chelsea with three children -boys of 11 and six and a girl of eight - and have the de rigueur home in the country.
Mr Odey is known for his boyish charm. He needed every ounce of it to deal with the outcry after he paid himself £19m in 1994.
Some multimillionaires - including some of the City's big bonus beneficiaries - are becoming as well known for their charitable giving as their stratospheric earnings.
John Studzinski, the Polish-American who co-heads HSBC's investment banking, is expected to net more than £13.5m in salary and bonuses after this bumper period. The urbane and affable former deputy chairman of Morgan Stanley International, who has degrees in both sociology and biology, has given millions away to human rights causes, the homeless and the arts. On Saturday nights he serves up food to down-and-outs at a shelter he helped to set up near London's Victoria station.
Made a Knight of the Order of St Gregory by Pope John Paul II, Mr Studzinski thinks Britain's wealthy put on a rather poor philanthropic show compared with the US. He suggests newspaper rich lists be abandoned and league tables of giving published instead. More would then be shamed into charitable giving.
Bob Diamond, 53, the American head of Barclays Capital who is predicted to pick up more than £15m in salary and bonuses, also adheres to the wealthy US philanthropist tradition. Like Mr Studzinski, he does not come from a rich banking dynasty. His parents were teachers and he lectured on management before becoming a bond trader. Since joining Barclays in 1997, Mr Diamond has built an investment bank from scratch and made Barclays Capital one of the fastest-growing investment banks in the US and Europe. His Diamond Family Foundation has donated millions of dollars to his alma mater, Colby College.
It is left to multimillionaires such as Stanley Fink, 48, to keep the British in the altruistic running. The chief executive of the Man Group is expecting a £10m bonus. His personal wealth is estimated at £85m. Three years ago this son of a Manchester lampshade-maker announced he was giving 10 per cent of his pay, bonus and share package to his own charitable foundation.
Mr Fink flummoxed hedge fund critics in September by announcing the launch of a £109m hedge fund, the fees from which would be donated to a children's charity, Absolute Return for Kids. He hopes that the fund will generate more than £5m a year.
That kind of move may take the edge off your envy at the payment of billions in bonuses to a tiny sector of the British workforce - or it may do nothing to soothe your irritation as you wait in the post-Christmas queue to throw yourself at the mercy of your bank manager.
Inside story: City bonanza
Michael Spencer £5m bonus
Flamboyant Michael Spencer is famed in the City for his trademark red braces, love of Robbie Williams's music and passion for fine wine. Also an art collector, Spencer is the British chief executive of Intercapital (Icap), the world's biggest money broker. Married with three children, he is said to be worth in excess of £372m, with homes in Holland Park, St Tropezand New York.
Crispin Odey £8.8m bonus
Crispin Odey is one half of the partnership that has been described as the Posh and Becks of hedge funds. The other is his wife, Nichola Pease, and together their combined earnings topped £10m in 2004. When not making a fortune managing hedge funds, 46-year-old Odey is to be found playing golf or salmon fishing. The couple have three children and live in a four-storey house in Chelsea.
Bob Diamond £15m package
A golf fanatic, Diamond is known for practising his putting using a hole cut in the carpet of his Canary Wharf office. The sports-mad head of investment bank Barclays Capital also keeps a box at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge. He lives in a five-storey house in Kensington with his wife and three children.
John Studzinski £13.5m package
Passionate about human rights and helping young artists, the co-head of HSBC's investment banking division is single, but has 39 godchildren. Few modern City high-flyers can claim to have such a strong philanthropic streak - the 49-year-old has been known to spend Saturday evenings dishing out food to the homeless. He keeps a gracious residence by the river at Chelsea.
Stanley Fink £10m bonus
Another who has made a fortune managing hedge funds, Fink escapes from the City to the ski slopes - he owns a hotel in the Alpine resort of Courchevel. Home, though, is Harrow, north London, where he lives with his wife and three children. He is a keen backer of the Tory party. Fink has also established a charitable foundation and raised funds for children's organisations.Reuse content